Are .gov sites pushing propaganda?
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 Recovery.gov, 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!"
“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="http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20100818/BENEFITS01/8180301/-1/TWITTER">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.
U.S. BORDER PATROL:
• 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.
Posted by: dalejohn19 | August 19, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: peggybrad19 | August 19, 2010 7:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: northdakota | August 19, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dl49 | August 19, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: pkbishop1 | August 19, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dl49 | August 19, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: areyousaying | August 19, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: cathyjs | August 19, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: cathyjs | August 19, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: LarryG62 | August 19, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: katem1 | August 19, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: dubuqueman | August 19, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tfspa | August 19, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chippewa | August 19, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Meepo | August 19, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tfspa | August 19, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mibrooks27 | August 19, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MichelleKinPA | August 19, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jiji1 | August 19, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: pathfinder12 | August 19, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: catmomtx | August 19, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.