Did you know that the FBI creates broadcasts that mimic news reports, and disseminates them via ABC news, itunes, and other internet media? According to the Daily Signal, these reports often do not clearly identify the broadcast as a government issued broadcast, that has been made with tax dollars, and paints the FBI in a positive light. The reports are surrounded by similar sounding segments that are not U.S. government made propaganda.
With public agencies in the quasi-news business, should their products also carry a disclosure to avoid the same confusion? Should they clearly tell listeners that the message is generated using their tax dollars?
“The only thing we’re promoting is public awareness so, no, I don’t think there is a need for a label,” the FBI’s McKee told me. “Within each program the narrator clearly identifies herself as an FBI employee and the programs are found on official FBI sites/pages.”
In fact, in the Aug. 15 story on “FBI This Week,” the narrator doesn’t clearly identify herself as an FBI employee. The segment follows a typical news format where the reporter signs off with the location of the assignment and the title of the feature. But to those who are listening closely, the positive message is the clue that there’s a government sponsor.
So it got me thinking, if this is the propaganda we know about, what are we hearing from “non-government sources” that is actually indeed, just propaganda? The fact that the U.S. government feeds U.S. citizens bulk lies is not controversial. Operation Mockingbird is a documented government program that had thousands of mainstream journalists on U.S. government pay since 1953 and included publications like the Washington Post, Time Magazine, People Magazine, and Newsweek to name a few. And just recently documents show that the U.S. government currently seeks to influence public opinion via social media, with paid “trolls” to comment on news articles, and insert their ideas or misinformation or just confusion into Facebook and twitter. To what extent are we influenced by lies, useful for and propagated by the U.S. government?
What if the propaganda was so bad that “facts” about countries like North Korea, Iran, and Cuba were not really facts? I don’t actually think it goes that deep, but it does make me wonder. With so little travel to the three countries by Americans, it is conceivable that certain misconceptions could be easily construed by our own government, posing as media. But as always, the bottom line is: never trust the government.