When Arnold Schwarzenegger landed his current starring role as California governor, many worried about his lack of political experience. Never fear; the actor has turned out to be a quick study in partisan trickery. Taking a page from the Bush administration’s playbook, Gov. Schwarzenegger has been using taxpayer money to pay for fake news.
This advertisement is filmed to look like a real news report. It’s narrated by an actual former TV reporter who, no longer a journalist, now works for the state. The ad pushes a new, government-backed, corporation-friendly proposal which would kill mandatory lunch hours. California workers — construction workers, waitresses, nurses, farm workers and a forklift operator — are shown in “interviews,” extolling the benefits of the proposal.
It’s pure political propaganda. The proposal is backed by big corporations like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, which have been in expensive hot water for denying workers time for lunch. It’s also backed by the California Restaurant Assn., “which donated $21,000 to one of Schwarzenegger’s campaign funds last year and provided food for his 2003 inauguration.” The “news” segment ignores all of that, and stays very quiet about the fact that “organized labor opposes the changes, or that workers would have a harder time suing employers over missed meal breaks.”
But you’d never know it wasn’t real by watching your local California news station. Eighteen stations ran the spots as news reports. The tape even provided positive promo text for the local anchors, which read: “If approved, the changes would clear up uncertainty in the business community and create a better working environment throughout the state.”