This is the same White House that has spoken openly about their intense campaign to circumvent the mainstream media "filter" and communicate "good news" about the war in Iraq directly to the public. The administration has spent $62 million in taxpayer money to launch Arabic-language satellite news station Al-Hurra, a thinly veiled effort to spread US-friendly propaganda and win Arab hearts and minds across the Middle East. This same administration thinks there nothing to stop them from attempting to win over Americans in the same way.
According to Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, in the run-up to the War in Iraq the Pentagon handed "global strategic communications consultancy" the Rendon Group a multi-million-dollar contract to sell Americans on a preemptive war in Iraq. Both Rendon and the Pentagon have kept steadfastly quiet on exactly what this involved. Seymour Hersh has since reported that Rendon had been hired by the Pentagon's now-defunct Office of Strategic Influence, to plant news stories – including false ones – in the media. We have yet to uncover which American "journalists" worked with the OSI while it existed, and how much they were paid.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon Channel will soon become available to Americans via every satellite and cable operator. This is just one piece in the array of Pentagon propaganda designed to infiltrate the U.S. news system. Since 2001, the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service has fielded 40 reporters, producers and public affairs specialists to create good military news to be beamed to home audiences via local news stations. According to a March 13 report in The New York Times, the service's "good news" segments have reached 41 million Americans via local newscasts, in most cases, without the station acknowledging their source.
In 2002, State Department public affairs contractors produced a segment on how America is helping liberate Afghani women. The fake news segment, created on behalf of a White House effort to build support for the war on terror, ran almost in its entirety on a Fox affiliate station in Memphis. The local reporter later told reporters that she was unaware the segment came via the White House.
The Bush administration and its Pentagon wield maximum media manipulation with minimal opposition. On the sidelines stands a mute White House press corps. The word "propaganda" has been mentioned only once in the more than 30 White House briefings that have occurred this year. Across the aisle, Democrats have mustered together a series of letters demanding hearings and investigations. Though, according to Times' columnist Maureen Dowd, their letters likely ended up in the Oval Office trash can.
1. Introduction: Ghosts in the Media Machine
2. A Propaganda Slush Fund Courtesy of U.S. Taxpayers
3. Jeff Gannon's White House Maneuver
4. Armstrong Williams and the White House Payola Trail
5. The Demise of FOIA and the Special Prosecutor