Fake TV News
A public relations trade publication has editorialized in favor of video news release (VNR) disclosure ... sort of. "The Federal Communications Commission is correctly serving the US citizens' right to know where footage originates," writes PR Week.
After a November 6 speech at a biodiesel plant in Iowa, Senator Hillary Clinton took questions. But "some of the questions from the audience were planned in advance," reports Patrick Caldwell. Grinnell College student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff said that "one of the senior [Clinton campaign] staffers told me what" to ask.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) internal investigation into last month's fake news conference found that FEMA press secretary Aaron Walker "directed aides to pose as reporters, secretly coached them during the briefing and ended the event after a final, scripted question was asked," reports Spencer Hsu.
Do you remember when the Surgeon General's warning appeared on cigarette packs, and everyone stopped smoking? Or when nutritional information was added to food packaging, and everyone stopped eating sugary snacks? Neither do I.
Yet lawyers and lobbyists for the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) insist that mounting pressure to disclose fake news "already has begun to drastically chill speech in newsrooms across the country, inhibiting broadcasters and cablecasters from fully serving their viewers."
That claim is made in RTNDA's new filing (PDF) with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The broadcasters' group is urging the FCC to stop considering fines for undisclosed video news releases (VNRs). The FCC has proposed fines totaling $20,000 against Comcast, for its cable channel CN8 having aired five VNRs — public relations videos designed to look like news reports — without disclosure.
The FCC fines are an important first step in ensuring news viewers' right to know. But rather than roll up its metaphoric sleeves and address the impact of VNRs on television news, RTNDA is lobbying against any FCC action.
Sacramento television station KCRA recently aired a "Problem Solvers" news segment where "Lynsey Paulo, a multiple regional-Emmy winner, looked at 'search engine fatigue' among online users. The report quoted three consumers, an expert from UCLA and an executive from Myride.com, which provides targeted-search results.
Buffeted by bad press from recalls of dangerous drugs and public bitterness over high drug prices, the drug industry has decided to cure its ailing image by sponsoring its own TV talk show, hosted by Billy Tauzin, the former GOP congressman who now heads the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).