Lies, Propaganda, and Medicare


First came word that the White House had threatened to fire an official if he spoke his mind about the cost of the new Medicare bill. Now there's this story:

It was with great fanfare that the Bush administration unveiled 30-second television commercials and a two-page flier that would be mailed to 41 million seniors and disabled people, touting the newly enacted Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Missing from the publicity was any mention of "video news releases," which feature "interviews" with government officials and voice-overs by production company employees posing as Washington reporters, for use in local TV news shows.

On Monday, less than a week after it concluded that the administration's Medicare commercials and fliers were technically legal but contained "notable omissions and errors," the General Accounting Office said it would conduct another investigation to determine whether the video news releases constituted illegal "covert propaganda."

A government spokesman informs the Los Angeles Times that such releases are "extraordinarily common," and that the Clinton administration put out 26 of them. I guess that means it's OK.