From the mailbag

Thanks for the link to the NYT atricle on the Bush administration’s propaganda machine.

One sentence caught my eye:

“The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them.”

Can this really be true? Are major networks receiving payments from the government for running gov’t propaganda? This makes the Armstrong Williams case look like small potatoes.

I read the article through to the end, but found no further mention of these payments. Maybe you and other liberal bloggers can pick up where the Times left off.

There really are a lot of unanswered questions here. Primary among them being, what are these news outlets thinking? I know that corporate puff pieces posing as news segments have been picked up by cash-strapped stations for years as an easy way to fill out the time — I’d guess by news managers who think, hey, what’s the harm in a fun little piece this wacky new trend and/or product? Don’t get me wrong, I find that hugely objectionable — I’m pretty sure I remember doing a cartoon or two about it at some point during the nineties — but running government propaganda disguised as news takes it to an entirely different level of deceit. And if the networks really are complicit in this — and kudos to the sharp-eyed reader who caught the reference above — that’s a hell of a lot worse than Dan Rather getting scammed by someone cough cough Karl Rove cough cough on that memogate silliness.

Somebody at some level in the broadcast news industry owes us an explanation. Because the government can churn these things out until they’re blue in the face, but if newscasters don’t run them, then they are relegated to the status of trees falling in an empty forest.