David Randolph Smith

Roving Propaganda

  • Niger/Yellocake & the Fraudulent Documents. Given the standard operating procedure of the Bush Administration to pay journalists for propaganda (e.g. paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for unattributed favorable coverage of No Child Left Behind and Video News Releases) does it strain credulity to think that the Bush Administration funded an effort to obtain press coverage favorable to bolster an Iraq nuclear threat that led to the Niger forgeries? Special prosecutor Fitzgerald has been confirmed to have looked into the circumstances surrounding the Italian connection to the Niger forged documents. The scenario might go something like this: Rove, in charge of media manipulation, authorizes funds to generate "favorable media" reports/coverage of Iraq's nuclear threat. Rove, for example, tells an operative/dirty trickster that such media coverage would be helpful to the White House Iraq Group's effort to make the case for war. The word gets out that articles/proof of an Iraq nuclear connection are worthy subjects of monetary compensation. Sources in Italy then create the Niger forgeries and leak them to journalists in Italy. In other words Rove and the White don't say " go forge documents on Iraq's nuclear threat" but they do encourage or pay for generating such media. The Niger forgeries were in fact leaked (given) to a reporter in Italy. Consider the history that makes this admittedly speculative musing worth investigation:
  • The relationship between Karl Rove, I.Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr. and reporters (Judith Miller at the New York Times, Robert Novak at Chicago SunTimes and Matthew Cooper at Time) that has lead to the Valerie Plame CIA debacle (and indictment of Scooter Libby) is only part and parcel of a much bigger story: a virulent commitment to propaganda. The revelations about how the Bush administration attempted to co-opt journalists to spread their message on the Niger uranium/Ambassador Wilson story are consistent with a widespread pattern by Rove and others in the administration to mould opinion by pure propaganda. It may be helpful to recall that Karl Rove, who never earned a college degree, ran his own public relations firm, Karl Rove & Company, from 1981-1999 in Texas until he became George W. Bush's "chief strategist" for the 2000 presidential campaign.
  • As Maureen Dowd notes in "Woman of Mass Destruction" (NYT 10/22/05) Judith Miller parroted White House misrepresentations on WMD by "incestuous amplification" (quoting Senator Bob Graham). But, as Dowd notes: "Investigative journalism is not stenography."
  • There is a pattern here.The Government Accountability Office issued a little noticed decision last year that the Administration's use of "video news releases" to tout the "new" Medicare precription drug plan violated federal laws against propaganda, finding: the "use of appropriated funds to pay for the production and distribution of story packages that were not attributed to CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] violated the restriction on using appropriated funds for publicity or propaganda purposes in the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution of 2003,Pub. L. No. 108-7, Div. J, Tit. VI, § 626, 117 Stat. 11, 470 (2003). The videos praised President Bush's "new" plan and ended with a "reporter" saying "“In Washington, I’m Karen Ryan reporting.” In fact, the videos were produced by the goverment and paid by taxpayers -- facts viewers were never told.
  • The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Thursday (10/20/05) by voice vote approved a bill (S 967) that would require federal agencies to disclose when they pay for or prepare prepackaged news stories aired on commercial radio and television stations, CQ Today reports. According to CQ Today, the Bush administration has received criticism for the use of video news releases to "tout" the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and education policies. The Bush administration had said VNRs that do not identify the federal government as the source are legal, but the Government Accountability Office has said VNRs for the Medicare prescription drug benefit and education policies violated propaganda laws.
  • The Office of the President of the United States of America should never have a Minister of Propaganda.