The New York Times this weekend reported that more than 20 federal agencies have produced hundreds of fake news segments to promote President Bush’s policies. Many of these segments were “subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government’s role in their production.” One of these groups was the Office of Broadcasting Services, a branch of the State Department which traditionally has provided news shows with video from press conferences. According to the NY Times, that all changed in 2002, when, instead of providing reporters with raw footage of press conferences, the unit started producing segments manipulated to look like actual news clips. (This was all done “with close editorial direction from the White House.”) In all, the office produced nearly 60 segments, which were then distributed around the world for local stations to use as actual news footage.
Today, a reporter asked Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher: “Is it just clip reels that you put out or do you actually put out prepackaged news pieces?”
Boucher’s response? “Not quite sure I can explain to you the difference. Maybe I don’t know the…”
Isn’t that the problem, Mr. Boucher?