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10/16/2004

Overt Propaganda

More details are leeking out about the administration's use of government funds to advance their partisan interests in No Child Left Behind. DOE paid $700,000 to Ketchum in 2003 to have the PR firm monitor media coverage of NCLB and produce a Karen Ryan video news release, exactly like the Medicare ad [PDF] called "covert propaganda" by the GAO.

PFAW acquired the evidence of this latest abuse of government authority from a FOIA request. It hasn't publicly released the original documents, but the details are pretty damning.

The larger Ketchum report is divided into separate reports organized by time period (some reports represent individual months and some represent report multiple-month time periods). All of the reports contain a "Score Sheet" indicating the study's methodology. In this Score Sheet, which is used to evaluate individual media stories, eleven factors are listed as "Positive Messages." Each instance of a positive message is to be given five "points" plus a "bonus" of 10 points if there are more than three positive messages in a news story. Among the specific positive messages listed toward the five point and ten point bonus system is the following: "The Bush Administration/the GOP is committed to education."
The Bush administration harnesses the power of the government for partisan ends in two ways. First, it explicitly uses government funds for coalition building and propagandizing, i.e., the Medicare videos, the NCLB videos, much of the faith based initiatives agenda, the allocation of emergency funds, etc. Second, it times governmental decisions for partisan political advantage, including when serious strategic sacrifices are necessary. This includes the "roll-out" of the Iraq invasion marketing strategy, the timing of the various funding requests for Iraq, the selective declassification and release of security information, the raising and lowering of threat levels, and tactical decisions concerning troop activities in Iraq.

It is impossible to be too shrill in assessing the negative implications of the campaignistration.* They have no respect for the rule of law, primarily because their conception of sovereignty has no room for popular legitimacy independent of party interest. They are moving the country toward a commisarial dictatorship, and they are using our money to grease the skids.

 

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