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« NY Times to Charge for Online Viewing? | Main | The Ethics of Blogging »

January 07, 2005


Tom Guarriello

"Second-termism" begins to rear its head for Bush, even before the second term begins!


I was kind of hoping the old blog "style" wouldn't carry over to this new one...guess not :-(

Anspar Jonte

The "fake video" is a video news release. It is the same animal as numerous other forms of government-issued information. For example, the president doing a live speech on network TV during a presidential election to announce nothing of note, or Homeland Security producing a 30-second TV PSA about duct tape.

What bothers you is the transparency of the public relations work. I cannot fault organizations (be they public or private) for putting their best foot forward to have their message heard the way they want it. These news links are really a commentary on the sad state of American journalism.


Fran and PXL: Why do I get the feeling that the widespread torture of prisoners under Bush's leadership--which has been well documented--elicits less outrage in you than Dan's remark that the Bush admin seems "fond" of a long list of misdeeds, including torture?

Personally, I don't think that *anything* written in a blog could begin to match the enormity of my government, guardian of the ideals of America, illegally detaining and torturing prisoners. The people who allow this to happen are criminals, traitors, scoundrels, and scum. Disgusting.

Matthew Sheffield

Tribune Media Services cans Armstrong's column.


The fine points of legal memos crafted on behalf of the president by (very unfortunately) our next attorney general, "talking points" substituted for critical thinking and public discourse, and paying pretend journalists to pimp the administration's official views - they're all threads on the same cloth.

Under similar conditions (at least once) in the past, during the Nixon reign, the news media stepped up to the plate and did its job on behalf of the public. Now, tighter corporate control and much fewer independent voices in the news media have contributed to corruption of the news gathering process that parallels corruption permeating all three branches of the federal government.

This is an excellent format for Dan, or anyone else, to illustrate such points. Perhaps if Fran and/or PXLated are disappointed in the views of this blog's owner, they could present the details in their own blogs.

I agree with Anspar that the points brought up in this post represent a pathetic commentary on American journalism, however, I'm equally disturbed to have partisan political views shoveled at me disguised as factual news reporting, by "public relations" firms. I think that's a sad commentary on the state of the public relations profession. And I'm angered that taxpayers' money is being used to create propaganda.


Any of you ever read the book "Acid Dreams"? Seems to me some of you are in denile about what your red, white, and blue government has been doing for the past 60+ years.
Fascism spreads easily within the heard mentality.

Dan Gillmor

Folks, a look at the IP address of "Fran" tells me that this is my old troll from my Mercury News days. This person is not welcome on my sites, and I will delete his/her posts.


I'm appaled, thank you for the report

Nathan Slaughter

Somehow they have to get the word out about national programs. That's not just propaganda eating away at the mind of the masses; it's an essential part of implementation. We have to separate this propaganda issue from our determinations about the appropriateness of the program itself.

Whether this is "propaganda" will turn on the legitimacy of the means. I believe that the legitimacy question should be answered by (1) (a) the content or (b) potential to point people to the content they need to implement and (2) the reach of the program to the right people.

You'll be hard pressed to find a court that would determine this is propaganda. Especially if that court is dominated by Republican appointees. On the other hand, the average blogger will tell you that government communications with the public = propaganda.

Dan, it's a great post. But this headline won't get snap anybody's attention: "Bush Administration Invents 'News' and Pays Journalist." And what's the news?

Oh, yeah! I didn't even try to answer whether it's propaganda under the pseudo-rule from the bottom of the crackpot. I say you can forget the pseudo-rule. Paying journalists? C'mon. That's evil.

Karen M.

Why is it so difficult to understand that presenting paid advertising as reported news crosses the line into conflict of interest territory-- for both of the parties involved?

Also, Hurrah! for someone choosing to delete trolls' comments. It's way past time. It's not as if they supplied their own email addresses or web-sites where one could pay them a return call. Isn't that how SPAM originated? Fingers in one's ears, while drowning out other voices?

Dan isn't asking them to sign a loyalty oath, after all, but simply requiring a modicum of good behavior.


Do the institutions involved have a code of ethics that covers this scenario?
Do they require their contributors to commit to abide by it?

If not, why not?

This would be a excellent "distributed journalism" opportunity - one person collects a list of organizations that this columnist has worked for; the rest of us pick one or two of the outlets closest to us, and contact them asking
a) where is their code of ethics posted?
b) does it specifically ban this sort of "payola"?
c) do they require contributors to agree to abide by it?

then report back the answers to the data collector, who compiles the data and posts it on an as-yet-uncreated? "distributed journalism results" blog (or perhaps posts it whereever, but it's linked to from the "distributed journalism results" blog)

When do we start?

Also, we could enlist the white house press corps to help - get them to commit to asking one question: "is it acceptable for the government to pay a reporter who pushes the government line, without this fact being disclosed?"
And pin down the administration on this point.

(Perhaps we could ask party leaders on both sides this same question...)

The questions could probably be worded better; feel free...


Dan, the other terrible thing about the Armstrong Williams' story is that it will affect kids. Believe it or not, No Child Left Behind is one of the few progressive acts by this administration. (Yes, progressive. Bush enacted the testing regime first called for Robert Kennedy in 1965.)

But this debacle means that education becomes even more partisan, more political, and less about the real work of how to teach so kids can learn.

I've got the RKF cites in this post:

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