More fake news

In cahoots with CNN

You have to give this White House credit: they never give up on their attempts to push their version of the message. They now have a new ploy, this time in cahoots with CNN.

Let's examine the ways:

Karen Ryan
PR specialist Karen Ryan

• They produced and disseminated fake "news" video releases that looked like the other stories you might see on your local television news. According to Truth Out .org, "at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years." Many of these were incorporated into newscasts without attribution to the government or any indication that viewers were watching carefully crafted Bush administration propaganda.

Perhaps the best known example is that of Karen Ryan's fake report — "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting" — on Medicare. A simple Google search provides lots of other examples.

Armstrong Williams
Commentator Armstrong Williams

• They paid "journalists" and "broadcasters" for placement of White House messages in columns, in articles, and on the air. One of the more notorious examples is the hefty stipend paid to black commentator "Armstrong Williams 'to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts', and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004" (USA Today .com)

Jeff Gannon Jeff Gannon
Jeff Gannon, working day and night

• They gave White House press credentials to Jeff Gannon (real name James Dale Guckert) who tossed softball questions in press briefings whenever the White House press corps, uncharacteristically, asked difficult or embarrassing questions. That was just his day job. Gannon's sideline was running an escort service and a website, militarystud.com.

Latest fakes

The latest iteration of the fake-news/fake-reporter ploy can be seen most days on CNN's News-For-Dummies broadcasts, where White House mouthpieces do a spot-on imitation of the standard White House stand-up report. You know the ones— a talking head standing in front of the White House.

Here are recent screen captures from CNN.

Andrew Card
Talking Head #1
Dana Bash
Talking Head #2
Claude Allen
Talking Head #3
Claude Allen
Talking Head #4

Only Talking Head #2 is an actual CNN reporter, Dana Bash, White House correspondent. The casual viewer could certainly be forgiven for mistaking White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card (#1) and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Claude Allen (#3 and #4) for reporters, especially since CNN only identifies the speaker sporadically, as in Talking Head #4. If you weren't paying close attention you could easily think you were hearing an objective news report, when in fact you'd be getting the White House party line.

CNN should be ashamed of itself for participating in this ruse. Oh, I know— They probably think they are demonstrating what a powerful news organization they are that they can get White House spokespeople to leave their desks and stand out on the lawn in front of a camera. But if that's the case, they are only demonstrating how gullible they are. They are being played — wittingly or unwittingly — by the White House media machine, patsies in the gulling of the American public.