Bush Administration Propaganda More Wide Spread Than First Thought

Today’s New York Times has an article, Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged Television News, which reveals the breadth and depth of the Administrations campaign to influence public opinion.

Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government’s role in their production.

According to Wikipedia, propaganda is defined as follows:

A specific type of message presentation aimed at serving an agenda. At its root, the denotation of propaganda is ‘to propagate (actively spread) a philosophy or point of view’. The most common use of the term (historically) is in political contexts; in particular to refer to certain efforts sponsored by governments or political groups.

The aim of propaganda is to actively influence people’s opinions, rather than to merely communicate the facts about something. For example, propaganda might be used to garner either support or disapproval of a certain position, rather than to simply present the position. What separates propaganda from “normal” communication is in the subtle, often insidious, ways that the message attempts to shape opinion. For example, propaganda is often presented in a way that attempts to deliberately evoke a strong emotion, especially by suggesting non-logical (or non-intuitive) relationships between concepts.

The question this raises in my opinion is how is this any different from propaganda? Since this is coming from a Republican administration I would particularly like to hear from any right-wingers willing to give an opinion (John, Lokester, Elric) but anyone should feel free to chime in. Do you agree with this method of sneaking prepackaged “news reports” into local news broadcasts without identifying their origin? And please don’t give me the “they all do it” answer, that is just a cop out.

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