'Anti-Propaganda' Ban Repealed, Freeing State Dept. To Direct Its Broadcasting Arm At American Citizens

from the 'our-top-pre-approved-story-tonight...' dept

The US government has a bit of a PR problem at the moment, thanks to Ed Snowden's leaks and a decade-plus of general antipathy towards its constituents' rights and liberties growing out of its War on Terror.

Fortunately, the government now has a chance to aim its official version of today's news at US citizens, thanks to the repeal of a so-called "anti-propaganda" law earlier this month.

For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.
The Broadcast Board of Governors, which produces programming like the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, has been prevented from aiming its programming at Americans since the 1970's when the Smith-Mundt Act (which authorized the State Dept. to communicate with foreign audiences via many methods, radio being one of them) was amended to prohibit domestic dissemination of the BBG's broadcasts. This was done to distance the State Department's efforts from the internal propaganda machine operated by the Soviet Union.

Now, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (part of the National Defense Authorization Act) has repealed the domestic prohibition, allowing the government's broadcasting to be directed at/created for Americans for the first time in over 40 years.

BBG spokesperson Lynne Weil says these efforts aren't simply pro-government hype machines.
"They don't shy away from stories that don't shed the best light on the United States," she told The Cable. She pointed to the charters of VOA and RFE: "Our journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible, discussion, and open debate."

A former U.S. government source with knowledge of the BBG says the organization is no Pravda, but it does advance U.S. interests in more subtle ways. In Somalia, for instance, VOA serves as counterprogramming to outlets peddling anti-American or jihadist sentiment. "Somalis have three options for news," the source said, "word of mouth, Al-Shabaab or VOA Somalia."
As Weil points out, this will bring a new level of transparency to the BBG as communicating to Americans is no longer prohibited. If nothing else, transcripts of BBG programming will be easier for Americans to get ahold of. A court ruled in 1998 that the limitations of the Smith-Mundt Act exempted the Voice of America from releasing transcripts in response to FOIA requests.

Another possible plus is the fact that the BBG will provide a free, "local" news source for immigrant populations.
The agency wants to reach diaspora communities, such as St. Paul Minnesota's significant Somali expat community. "Those people can get Al-Shabaab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn't get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VOA Somalia," the source said.
These positives aside, the thought of a state-run news agency being allowed to direct its efforts at Americans is still uncomfortable. Despite claims of independence, it's hard to believe the source is 100% trustworthy when its stated purpose is to run flack for the State Department in foreign nations. (Of course, the mainstream media outlets haven't shown much reluctance to regurgitate talking points, which almost makes the BBG's efforts seem redundant.)

While the BBG may provide a less-biased source of news for many foreigners (or at least provide a different bias), the purpose of its broadcasts to its new American audience is less clear. The fact that the State Department is behind the effort doesn't do much to allay fears that the BBG will become a tool of domestic propaganda. The State Department's reaction to the leak of diplomatic correspondence by Wikileaks was to block its employees' access to the site (or any site containing the word "Wikileaks") and demand the digital documents be "returned." How will a state-run press react to developments like these? Will it be forced to play by the department's rules, no matter how illogical, or will it be able to deal with them in a more forthright manner?

In a time where the administration seems to be forced to play defense with increasing frequency, it's hard to believe it won't be willing to exploit this addition to its PR arsenal.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    >Implying that they ever stopped to begin with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    theDude, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    meet the new boss

    it's hard to believe the source is 100% trustworthy when its stated purpose is to [sell tampons and dish detergent]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    What does this remind you of?

    Is this going to be the real competitor for Fox News?

    "The official government line..today."

    As reported by Fox & Friends.

    Oh, hell-just merge the two and have done with it.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    It doesn't really matter at this point. If these cable news stations were state-run, it would be exactly the same.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    Re:

    >implying the mainstream media just parrot press releases and take the side of the government


    oh wait....

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    Re:

    Agree... They are state run.

    They go to the same parties. They are in the same golf clubs. They have the same donors/advertisers. They take the government stance on every issue. The media serve the government.

    Even fox news is pro Obama when it's the establishment under scrutiny. Obama's people illegally spy on everyone. Fox News doesn't complain at all. But Benghazi, now there is a real fake scandal to push.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    By the definition of propaganda, I'm not sure how the US Navy's slogan "A global force - for good" does not already qualify.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    "Of course, the mainstream media outlets haven't shown much reluctance to regurgitate talking points, which almost makes the BBG's efforts seem redundant."


    My thought exactly. Mainstream media already is a 'Propaganda Tool' for the US Government. I always had my suspicions this was the case, but the Snowden saga all but confirmed it.

    Shortly after the NSA leaks, every 'mainstream' news organization in the US was covering the NSA story, in an unscripted fashion.

    About 1 week after the story broke, it's like all the 'mainstream' news agencies got government memos and I slowly saw coverage about the NSA spying trickle off. Now most of the coverage is about "Bringing Snowden to justice".

    I even watched one NBC news host make the statement, "And the hunt for Edward Snowden continues". One of the correspondent reporters on live link then said, "It's not much of a hunt, we know exactly where Snowden is at. The Transit Area in Russia's International airport."

    So there you have it, the 'mainstream' propaganda machine hard at work labeling Snowden as a 'hunted fugitive', except it's not much of hunt when you know his exact location...

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Ed Allen, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Licensed Journalists only

    The next step is making the leakers' channels illegitimate and then, if that does not shut down enough of them, criminalize dispensing any but official "news".

    It is going to get _REALLY_UGLY_ before this is over.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Licensed Journalists only

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Draskinn, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Licensed Journalists only

    You think it's ever going to be over?

    Well I guess if things go all "Mad Max" then it will be over.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Re: Licensed Journalists only

    beyond thunder dome, baby

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    No One, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 3:56pm

    ..

    This law is one of those asinine holdovers from the forties.

    Take this for example; Back in the sixties, Gregory Peck did an excellent documentary on JFK, called 'Years of Lightning, Day of Drums'. But because the movie was funded by the US Information Agency, you can't legally view it in the US. (Except in person, at the Kennedy Center, and it took an act of Congress to even allow that!)

     

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  14.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    Re: ..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Re: ..

    and I somehow messed up the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvN5ecqCFk0

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 4:32pm

    Oh great.

    Soon the US will have its own version of China Daily.

    Now will have FOUR news organizations to classify:

    MSNBC: Left-Leaning (or as they like to call it, "Forward").
    FOX: Right-Leaning (Or "Fair and Balanced")
    CNN: Incompetent
    BBG: Bullshit

     

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  17.  
    icon
    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 7:16pm

    "My fellow Americans. This is President Eden..."

    If you've played Fallout 3, you'll know what comes next.

    Anti-propaganda also meant anti-brainwashing.

    Now, we'll get to see our "government" broadcast "propaganda" and if "Little Miss Honey BooBoo" has taught me anything, it's that people will believe what they hear.

    Goodbye, America. Our Founding Fathers wouldn't be proud.

     

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  18.  
    icon
    AC Unknown (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 7:54pm

    Re:

    +1 for the Fallout 3 Reference

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 16th, 2013 @ 4:53am

    Re:

    That. The US prevail!

    This fact alone shouldn't be worrying but along with the many fascist signs we've seen in the last 10-15 years... It rings a loud alarm.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    The Gray Adder, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 5:44am

    You gotta wonder...

    ...why this somehow got passed when practically everything else kicking around Congress sits in limbo. Could it be that the Republicans intend to use this after the dark day when they regain the White House? Sure, they have Fox News, but they only have partial control over News Corp.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re:

    That Benghazi thing is only there to provide the illusion of holding the administration to account. I note with interest the deafening silence over the other US embassies that were attacked under the Bush and other administrations, some with greater loss of life.

    Why is nobody insisting on dredging those up over and over again? I'm not saying Benghazi didn't happen, but the other embassy attacks happened too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorist_attacks_on_U.S._diplomatic_facilities

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 6:07am

    Re:

    Exactly. I noticed this too, as did people on forums who are really vocal about the media doing everything they can to distract from Snowden's message.

    The mainstream media has been state-run for several years, much like Iran's, China's and so forth, so this 'anti-propaganda' ban, if true, comes as no surprise. Most people don't even bother with MSM outlets anymore because their sole purpose is to distract, propagate lies and create division among us, even attempting to start a race riot (Zimmerman trial). They fuel hate and sow discord.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Annonimus, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 5:06am

    Why is this comment not from the giving themselves more rope to hang themselves with department? The Government will abuse this and get themselves into more hot water before this round of we are trying to give you security stop complaining about your rights is done.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Larry A. Singleton, Jul 17th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Sheeple

    What's the difference. The country is in decline. The idiots don't read. They don't squawk when their rights are taken away. Today we have "press one for english" tomorrow it's going to be mandatory to allow the Muslim Brotherhood into grade schools to teach your children how wonderful Islam is. Oh, that's right. They're already doing that.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymus, Jul 18th, 2013 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Sheeple

    The entire Muslim thing is created and controlled by the CIA....the al-Queda was created by the CIA and the lower echelon Muslims copped to it because they thought it was the politically correct thing to do...

    I personally don't particularly care for the Koran (or the Bible for that matter) but I do not believe that the Muslim people in power could possibly be stupid enough to cut US citizens heads off on tape in order to gain world sympathy...it doesn't take much to realize that the only outfit that type of manipulation could serve would be the US War Machine...

    The Shah of Iran might have been replaced as the puppet , but if you think that the CIA really lost it's control over any of their puppet regimes , your only kidding yourself...

    The Shah , The Marcos, Noriega , Saddam and all the rest . ..they set'em up , use them , just to shoot them down and all to create the illusion of 'foreign delinquents' that require more US dollars to protect us from them...

    The US War Machine is the World Mob who will force you to buy into their protection and if you think the people who have been controlling the world for the past centuries are stupid , you are mistaken as they have run their war games to the end game in every possible scenario...including US Civil War...

    Where are the trillions that were announced as missing from the US military budget announced the day before the WTC ???...what a convenient time to make that announcement that essentially fell through the cracks of propaganda , so blow the WTC (and building 7)up and the sheeple gladly gave them trillions more...

    The US military is asking / requesting that soldiers not hesitate to shoot unarmed civilians as a requisite for proper patriotic duty to the 'commander-in-chief ' of the US Forces i.e. the US president...
    The hope for good is that the military code also includes that soldiers have a duty to disobey what they now to be illegal orders...but they are being told that the president cannot give an illegal ordser , because he is the commander in chief...

    The young testosterone filled 18 and 19 year olds want any excuse to shoot people (hard core reality) , so talk to your friends and family in the military and try and instill in them to support the US Constitution and any order that contradicts the US Constitution is an illegal order.

    Where is the 800 million unaccounted for Katrina aid ?
    They use HAARP to create disasters and then steal the aid money...

    Why aren't charges being brought against the NSA and the president for treasonous acts against the People of the USA...as soon as Bush and Obama signed those executive orders placing them above Congress and the Supreme Court/ US Constitution system of checks and balances they should have been handcuffed on Live Media , placed in Prison and tried for Treason and failure to uphold the US Constitution which they swore to uphold...

    The Entire System is corrupt from top to bottom and every single incumbent needs to go...corruption may be part of our nature , but maybe we can stymie it by periodically replacing every incumbent...

    The rhetoric is most likely a futile waste of time until they reassess the next right move to total world fascism...

    The 2nd Amendment MAD is going to have to be implemented, like it or not...better to starve the power crazed scum , and hope that those of us who survive will be able to use the US Constitution to re-create a new start....it is a very scary scenario although there doesn't seem to be any real workable alternative and it's just a case of putting off the inevitable...the longer the people delay , the more time the fascists have to tighten their game plan...

    Learn how to live in the high mountains of the world as they provide the highest degree of natural protection against any of their technological weapons...they could never get the afghani rebels out , but the afghani's were born into a life of resistance fighters...
    US citizens are fat / lazy and it will take alot of work to make serious soldiers out of us on the hardcore level...

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    They already have the I.P., Sep 29th, 2013 @ 11:17pm

    Main Stream Media

    Well what did you expect to happen when we allow huge corporations to buy up all the media outlets? There where100 or so (the site says 50 but i have seen bigger examples) differently owned media influences in this country not to long ago. There is now 6...
    Disney, General Electric, Newscorp, Viacom, Time-Warner, and CBS. They own 90% of everything you are exposed to.
    Pretty good illustration:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-americ a-2012-6
    The government is owned by the biggest contributors I have seen videos of the politicians outright asking for their bribes, it disgusting.

    Who is "too big to fail"? Who got all the money from the bailouts with specific insertion into the legislation to allow themselves to delegate and distribute the bailout money as they see fit? The Banksters. They sell our country out to the highest bidder and prance these politicians around on a stage telling us sweet lies and give us the illusion of "choice".
    The popular vote doesn't even matter, that is what the electoral colleges are for. Our president is chosen in, not voted in.
    our congress needs term limits.. why do you think they have them for the president? They need to loose the ability to exempt themselves from anything they pass on the people.. (isn't there a constitution or something that says they can't?)

     

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  27.  
    icon
    bgmcb (profile), Dec 17th, 2013 @ 10:36pm

    propaganda ban?

    When they lifted the propaganda ban I did not know they got an exemption for the sponsored content banner at the same time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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