Chuck Baldwin (2021)
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    “Packaged News” or Propaganda?

    Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Reuters News recently reported, "President Bush said on Wednesday [March 16, 2005] that the U.S. government's practice of sending packaged news stories to local television stations was legal and he no plans to cease it.

    "His defense of the packages, which are designed to look like television news segments, came after they were deemed a form of covert propaganda by the Government Accountability Office watchdog agency.

    "GAO, an arm of Congress, said this ran counter to appropriation laws and was a misuse of federal funds."

    The federal government's practice of sending "packaged news" to media outlets began under the Clinton Administration. President Bush has not only continued the practice, he has doubled the amount of federal tax dollars that are used for this purpose, spending $254 million in his first term.

    The proliferation of the Clinton/Bush "packaged news" policy signals the beginning of the end of a free and independent media (especially television media) in this country! Obviously, this does not bode well for the maintenance of liberty.

    Knowing the propensity of national leaders to mislead people and misrepresent truth, our Founding Fathers deliberately intended to keep the press free and independent from the controls and restraints of the federal government. A free press, even a hostile press, bodes well for freedom. A controlled or propaganda press does not.

    Virtually every repressive regime of history was first able to obtain control of the nation's major media outlets. After all, if one can control the flow of information, he or she can control the minds and actions of the citizenry. It now appears that our federal government is beginning to do this very thing.

    Have readers noticed how the same news stories seem to be carried by the three major networks and by the major cable networks? Does anyone really believe that this is a coincidence?

    What should also be obvious to any objective observer is the fact that the major media (with few exceptions) is even more accommodating of the Bush administration than it was of the Clinton administration, Bush's supposed conservatism notwithstanding. The lack of media curiosity and investigative reporting has become so universal that for all practical purposes it doesn't even exist!

    With very few exceptions, the major media simply regurgitates the government's spin on a given issue without challenge or question. Now we learn that many media outlets are actually running the federal government's "packaged news" without revision!

    Obviously, the real culprits in this story are the media moguls themselves. As with just about everyone else these days, the only consideration that seems to matter with most media executives is financial profit. Subsequently, most news departments are treated like every other department and are expected to turn a profit by any means necessary. This usually translates to layoffs, streamlined budgets, and less funding for investigative reporting.

    Believe it or not, however, there was a time when media executives understood that they fulfilled a crucial role in protecting freedom and were willing to allow their news departments to experience financial deficits, if necessary, in order to challenge "the powers that be" and boldly distribute independent information. Critical thinking, even innate hostility, toward government spin doctors is a necessity if liberty is to prevail in any society.

    Also problematic to an objective and independent press is the fact that today's media elite come from the same circle of power from whence come most of our political elite. They graduate from the same colleges and universities, are members of the same fraternities and clubs, and share the same group of friends and business partners.

    Beyond that, if one bothers to look, he or she will discover that the media and political elite of this country are joined at the hip when it comes to the social and political institutions to which they belong. At the national level, most are members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and similar organizations.

    Now, before anyone dismisses the fact that so many of the political and media elite share membership in the CFR as meaningless or coincidental, ask yourself this question, "What if these same people shared membership in the Christian Coalition? Would anyone view this as meaningless and coincidental?" Hardly.

    Another example of the philosophical brotherhood shared by "liberals" and "conservatives" in politics (and in the media) was clearly demonstrated in last year's presidential election. Both President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry are members of the super-secret Skull and Bones society. If the media were truly independent and objective, would they not find this interesting enough to investigate?

    Unfortunately, the media are not the only ones who refuse to report the facts objectively. "Conservative" spokesmen such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are every bit as culpable as the major media in hiding or ignoring the truth.

    As a result, there is precious little objective, unbiased, investigative reporting going on today! The only exceptions to this general rule are the Internet and certain (usually smaller and under-funded) independent talk radio shows.

    The problem with the Internet is that there is so much speculation, hyperbole, and outright falsehood floating around that it often requires painstaking work to discover the truth. The problem with good, objective, independent talk radio programs is that they are usually only found in smaller markets and subsist on meager budgets which make it difficult for them to reach mass audiences.

    When it comes to issues affecting liberty, both the preacher and the reporter need to be as independent and truth oriented as is humanly possible. It shouldn't matter to either whether a policy is being promoted by a liberal or a conservative, by a Republican or a Democrat. The only thing that should matter is truth and what is consistent with America's founding principles.

    Unfortunately, it seems that America's religious and media leaders have become little more than propagandists for our political leaders. The Clinton/Bush policy of disseminating "packaged news" to our nation's media outlets is merely one example of how our vanguards of liberty have been compromised.

    © Chuck Baldwin

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