Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Are .gov sites pushing propaganda?

By Ed O'Keefe

A new Republican report suggests roads signs touting the economic stimulus are propaganda (Post)

Eye Opener

Are government Web sites providing factual non-biased information or pushing the Obama administration's propaganda?

A new investigation by Congressional Republicans suggests the latter and accuses President Obama and Vice President Biden of using their bully pulpits to promote government Web sites that present political spin about the economic stimulus and health-care reform programs.

"Under one-party rule in 2009, the White House used the machinery of the Obama campaign to tout the President’s agenda through inappropriate and sometimes unlawful public relations and propaganda initiatives," said the report by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "Congress buoyed the Administration’s propaganda efforts by increasing federal spending on public relations for the first time since 2005."

Political propaganda efforts by presidential administrations are nothing new, the report said. Ronald Reagan's aides pushed for the publication of op-eds by government officials and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush's administrations used video news releases. Bush's aides also paid $240,000 to columnist Armstrong Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act and staged a press conference with public affairs staffers at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2007.

The report lists several instances where the Obama administration has done much the same. In Aug. 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts hosted a conference call with artists and musicians to encourage their support for elements of the stimulus program, the report said. It also knocks the administration's spending on road signs that states and cities are required to display at construction sites funded with economic recovery dollars.

Notably, the report also criticizes, the stimulus-tracking site operated by the nonpartisan, independent Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RAT Board). The report suggests it inappropriately spun the number of jobs created with recovery dollars by describing them as "Jobs Created or Saved" before switching to “Recovery Funded Jobs Reported by Recipients.”

"The new definition is designed to relieve the White House from the burden of weeding out false or misleading jobs claims," the report said.

RAT Board Chairman Earl Devaney defended the site on Monday, saying anyone who finds mistakes on the site can easily reach his staff to suggest corrections.

"Although this new level of transparency may not be obvious to casual observers, it is inspiring real transformation in the federal government," he wrote on his blog.

"I expect future government spending to follow the Recovery Board’s model of transparency," he said. "You, the decision makers, want transparency -- and you’ll get it!"

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who requested the report, asked the Government Accountability Office to further investigate the administration's efforts to promote its agenda.

“Using new technologies and the remnants of the most expensive presidential campaign in history, the Obama Administration’s use of taxpayer dollars to engage in covert propaganda is disconcerting," Issa said. "This new report and a GAO investigation are needed to help shed light on how taxpayer dollars are being spent to illegally further a political agenda.

Are Issa's concerns justified? Or are his concerns just part of what any presidential administration does -- and has the right to do?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Government's public vs. private pay study to launch in Sept.: The Office of Personnel Management and Labor Department will start reconsidering the way it determines the gap federal and private-sector employee pay gap next month. a href="">In an interview with Federal Times, OPM Director John Berry said, "I think the [current] pay gap numbers are good ones, and the process is accurate. But all that being said, [the process] is over 20 years old. My sense is it's time to get folks together to look at this and say, ‘Are improvements in order?'" Critics this week have criticized the government's way of tracking the pay gap, saying it doesn't account for its generous benefits package.

Cabinet and Staff News: Twenty percent of Americans wrongly think President Obama is a Muslim. Former colleagues of White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra sentenced in D.C. kickback scheme. The blogosphere all but insists that Elizabeth Warren should get the consumer protection job. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wants to meet with Shirley Sherrod.

Increase in suicides among Border Patrol agents causes alarm: After nearly four years without a single suicide in its ranks, the agency has had at least 15 agents take their own lives since February 2008.

Final U.S. combat brigade pulls out of Iraq: The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which left Iraq this week, was the final U.S. combat brigade to be pulled out of the country.

Civilians to take U.S. lead after military leaves Iraq: The Obama administration is planning a remarkable civilian effort, buttressed by a small army of contractors, to fill the void.

NSPS update: 110K transferred out so far, 22K on retained pay: But more than 22,000 employees — 20 percent of those transferred — have been placed on retained pay status because they earn more than their GS grade’s step 10 allows.

Filling the tank with something else: The federal government is plunging in, to what officials call the hunt for miracles.

Mosque fight helps al-Qaeda, says former FBI interrogator: "Our leaders need to understand that no one is likely to be happier with the opposition to building a mosque than Osama Bin Laden," says Ali Soufan. "His next video script has just written itself.”

Agencies start refocusing on climate change challenges: Starting this year, top Forest Service managers are encountering an added yardstick in their performance evaluations: how well are they confronting the effects of climate change in the national forests?

Oil-cleanup estimates draw new fire: The Obama administration's conclusion that much of the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill has disappeared is coming under additional fire from scientists.

SEC charges New Jersey with violating securities law: The case is part of an escalating campaign by the agency to deter financial misconduct by state and local governments as they are under intense fiscal pressure.

Follow The Federal Eye on Twitter | Submit your news tips here

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 19, 2010; 6:40 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tom Vilsack says he'll meet with Shirley Sherrod
Next: Issa: 'I will be able to take on everybody'


@Ron, Get your education online on your own time

Posted by: dalejohn19 | August 19, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Health care (transformation) is one of the best issues this current administration has done thus far. With this change individuals will have the opportunity to seek professional and quality health care services. Who would want to return to the days of the horse and buggy, b/w tv sets, manual typewriters, pac man, you get the point? That's about how old the health care system was in the USA. Each day the news is filled with social tragedies in which lives are taken at the hands of known acquaintences and/or family members. Our society is stricken with the institutions of white collar crime permeating throughout this great nation and greed which tends to strike at the very fabric of our country. If you are looking for affordable health insurance check out . I hope everyone will soon recognize and use the resources made by this transformation to seek professional medical attention as the need arises rather than turning to illegal and criminal activities to resolve their issues.

Posted by: peggybrad19 | August 19, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse

A road sign showing where the money is being spent is transparency, not propaganda. If someone thinks that the money is being misused, find out and correct it. States were encouraged to put up signs, there was no mandate. It is up to the states. There are even fewer "facts" in the report. I looked at the report to see what specific examples were available, and there were so few and many of those already have been corrected, I have a bigger problem with the Republicans wasting my taxpayer dollars to produce such a trivial report.

Posted by: northdakota | August 19, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Good gads. Suddenly signs that state the funding source of a construction project are White House propaganda? Come on ... that's been the standard practice throughout the nation long before President Obama took office.

It is amazing how he is criticized for actions similar to those of his predecessors. The bottom line is that to the radical right, President Obama is an uppity n*****r -- the nerve of somebody with African descendants to get elected President. The radical right just can't get over it and they've been conducting a smear campaign of Big Lies ever since he took office. Sadly even the mainstream media has gone along.

Posted by: dl49 | August 19, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Cry, cry Republicans!! Remember, John McCain lost the election?

Posted by: pkbishop1 | August 19, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Enough of this smear campaign already. For heavens sake, just visit where you'll find the photo of the Republican governor Mitch Daniels on the home page -- for highway information.

You'll find this everywhere. It is patently unfair to attack the President his staff letting people know where funding comes from. I cannot remember any highway project that didn't have a sign identifying its funding source.

Enough of the Big Lie!

Posted by: dl49 | August 19, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile Republicans have no problem with using their RNC Fox News subsidiary and Donohue Catholic, Mormon and intolerant white evangelical church bully pulpits to present their lying, smearing political spin to scare, manipulate and rally the hapless masses against common enemies like gays, liberals, Mexicans and Muslims.

Posted by: areyousaying | August 19, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I drove from Florida to Massachusetts last month. Along the way I saw those signs in two places where no highway work had been done in a long while nor was it needed in either place. I also saw signs in my hometown touting road projects that had been underway or completed well before the stimulus.
Propaganda? Maybe not, more like lies.

Posted by: cathyjs | August 19, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"Meanwhile Republicans have no problem with using their RNC Fox News subsidiary and Donohue Catholic, Mormon and intolerant white evangelical church bully pulpits to present their lying, smearing political spin to scare, manipulate and rally the hapless masses against common enemies like gays, liberals, Mexicans and Muslims."

Meanwhile Democrats have no problem taking donations from union entities and tolerating the rantings of the likes of Rev. Wright or Pelosi campaigning from the pulpit.
Nor do the Democrats care about making enemies out of We the People and the states while they give a standing ovation to an anti-American speech given by Calderon.

Posted by: cathyjs | August 19, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Why would Americans think Odumbo is a muslim? Perhaps they heard his admission about "my muslim faith" in the Stephanopolous interview.

As for government propaganda, it is. I'm on the White House email list, and I regularly get disingenuous pap from a host of Odumbo's incompetents. Sometimes from the Incompetent in chief.
Disgusting clowns.

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 19, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

more media driven controversy. what a load of cr&p!!!

Posted by: katem1 | August 19, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The signs are propaganda; they even have the slogan, and unlike the pictured one, most also have the logo that was cooked up to promote the stimulus package. The pictured sign is especialy egregious because it has elected officials' names on it. That should be outright illegal.

Posted by: dubuqueman | August 19, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Construction projects have had those kinds of signs for decades that I recall. This is no change. The real question is why are Republicans even bringing the point up? To make people think there is something wrong with it, of course.

Having a celebrity promote the use of government services? Seems to me the problem would be when they don't promote something that has been put in place. Again, no change and why is the GOP even questioning it? To make people think there is something wrong with it. Which there is not.

It's just good government. May that's what their problem is: they don't want (don't recognize?) good government. Because, as George Bush proved, government is not the problem - bad government is the problem.

Posted by: tfspa | August 19, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The signs would be more accurate if they said, "This project financed with your money."

Posted by: Chippewa | August 19, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

If so, the gov's doing a d a m n poor job of it, just noting the Obama/muslin headline, and that whole thing about the government ruining free people's lives forever.

Posted by: Meepo | August 19, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The signs would be more accurate if they said, "This project financed with your money." Posted by: Chippewa

ummm....I think that's the point of the sign in the first place.

Posted by: tfspa | August 19, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Of course this Administration has been using government agencies in their propaganda efforts! And, they have been repeatedly caught doing so, too. Why do you think most people stopped believing in anything the government has to say? Now, I cannot even think of a person who really believes that unemployment is less than 10%. Everyone knows that the 9.5 or 9.6, or whatever number tossed out this week, results from increasingly desperate attempts to manipulate numbers to keep them from rising about the psychological 10% barrier. The real number is somewhere between 18 and 23 percent. So why doesn't the government report it? Likewise, earlier this week there was a press release about increasing hi-tech employment when just about everyone knows the actual employees were Indian nationals, here on H1-B visas (and visitor and educational and L-1 visas, but all of them working). Those "new jobs" were at one of the thousands of job shops set up by India in this country, using "small business" loans and grants, displacing US workers and funneling ever more work and virtually all of the profits from those companies off to India ! We know that. We SEE it with our own eyes and the government's spinning the bad news into "good news" merely makes us mistrust the government and all of our institutions even more.

So, tell us the truth. Tell us about the fact that 90% of those job losses are due to US job displacement due to guest workers and job outsourcing! Tell us the actual rate and number of jobs outsourced. Tell us the actual trade imbalance numbers. Tell us the actual hit our domestic production has taken as a result of free trade (hint: it's over 50%!), the real rate of inflation (6.8% and climbing), the effects of the government's weak dollar policy, the real numbers of houses lost, people starving, families and children without healthcare or anything resembling a safety net. Tell us about the unsustainable national and state and local government debts and how we don't have a prayer of *ever* retiring them without inflation reaching levels that will see us revisiting the calamity that destroyed Weimar Republic Germany.

Neither the Republican's nor the Democrat's have the courage to climb off this free trade train ride to hell and the result WILL BE the destruction of this country. Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands that both major parties are addicted to laundered foreign and Wall Street money, all either party will do is spin the bad news until one day we simply cease to exist as a viable country.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | August 19, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

According to the GOP, if we're not the party in charge, it's propaganda.

If the GOP was in power, it's the truth. honest!

Posted by: MichelleKinPA | August 19, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Of course they are pushing propaganda...

...not that there's anything wrong with it.

Elections have consequences.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 19, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

This is just the beginning. If Republicans gain control of either the Senate or the House, they will open scores of investigations of this sort with one goal in mind: impeach Obama.


Posted by: pathfinder12 | August 19, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

So, Republicans whine about transparency and where the stimulus funds went. The White House uses signs and sets up web sites to tell them and they start whining about propaganda. WOW!!!

Posted by: catmomtx | August 19, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company