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Will "Fake News" Survive?

Will ongoing investigations and public outrage be sufficient to end the debased media practices that result in "fake news"?

Producers of the fake TV news stories called video news releases (VNRs) hope not. Some are worried, though. "Crisis" is the word Kevin McCauley of the public relations trade publication O'Dwyer's used in a recent column.

VNR producers are struggling to find allies, even within the PR industry. For the last three weeks, O'Dwyer's has been running an online poll asking, "Should there be a limit on the U.S. Government's use of video news releases?" Seventy-two percent of respondents to date support VNR restrictions. (O'Dwyer's doesn't disclose the number of respondents.)

VNR producers may very well be thanking their lucky stars for the Bush White House.

CMD & Free Press File 'Fake News' Complaint with FCC on Behalf of 40,000 Petition Signers

The Center for Media and Democracy and Free Press have filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission urging an investigation of the extensive airing of "fake news" by TV broadcasters who take government and corporate Video News Release (VNR) stories and run them unlabeled as real journalism. In just one week nearly 40,000 citizens have signed our petition calling on the FCC, Congress and local broadcasters to stop fake news.

WANTED: 250,000 Americans to Fight Fake News & Government Propaganda

The Center for Media and Democracy is working with Free Press to gather a quarter million signatures on our petition mobilizing the American public to fight fake news and government propaganda. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that at least 20 federal agencies have made and distributed pre-packaged, ready-to-serve television news segments to promote President Bush's policies and initiatives. Congress' Government Accountability Office determined that these "video news releases" were illegal "covert propaganda" and told federal agencies to stop. But last Friday, the White House ordered all agencies to disregard Congress' directive. The Bush administration is using hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to manipulate public opinion. Here's how to stop them.

The Fix Behind Fixing Social Security

In late February, deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, National Economics Council director Al Hubbard, and Barry Jackson, a special assistant to the president who is handling Social Security reform, met with administration-friendly lobbyists for a "rah-rah" cheerleading session on Social Security privatization. According to The Hill, representatives from the conservative 60 Plus Association, the business funded Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security(COMPASS), America’s Community Bankers, the National Retail Federation, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Business Roundtable heard the trio reiterate George W. Bush's commitment to "reform" Social Security. "Karl Rove talked about its importance to the president's agenda, and Al Hubbard talked about its importance to the economy," a spokesperson from the Roundtable told Bloomberg News.

Exposing the Echo Chamber Behind Social Security Privatization

The Bush administration ventriloquists are out in full force these days, breathlessly hyping "Personal Retirement Accounts" as a way to save Social Security by destroying it. For the average voter, getting a handle on what the Bush administration is proposing to do to Social Security is quite a challenge. The dozens of bobbing heads and clicking fingers, holding forth on cable news programming and the Internet is enough to make anyone's head spin.

The PR Plan Behind Big Tobacco's Big Victory

The tobacco industry won a big victory Friday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in its favor, against the U.S. Justice Department. The court's ruling means that the Justice Department cannot force the industry to disgorge $280 billion in past profits, even if it wins its fraud and racketeering case against the cigarette makers.

Little media attention has been paid to this important decision in a landmark case concerning a major public health threat. The near-invisible nature of the ongoing federal trial to determine whether Big Tobacco engaged in a conspiracy of fraud and deceit may represent another aspect of that very conspiracy - the successful efforts of tobacco industry PR to influence journalists. Internal tobacco industry documents shed light on the largely hidden phenomena of corporate tobacco lobbyists courting favor with editorial boards.


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