Bush administration propaganda and disinformation

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The Bush administration "spent $1.4 billion in taxpayer dollars on 137 contracts with advertising agencies over the past two-and-a-half years, according to a Government Accountability Office report released by House Democrats" on February 13, 2006, Richard Williamson reported for Adweek. "With spending on public relations and other media included, federal agencies spent $1.6 billion on what some Democrats called 'spin.'"

The GAO reported that the "six largest recipients of ad and PR dollars were" Leo Burnett USA, $536 million; Campbell-Ewald, $194 million; GSD&M, $179 million; J. Walter Thompson (JWT), $148 million; Frankel & Company, $133 million; and Ketchum, $78 million. "The agencies received more than $1.2 billion in media contracts, according to the report," according to Adweek.

U.S. Presidential Election, 2004

The Administration has been accused of not looking carefully at the facts when political decisions are to be justified. The political campaign for U.S. presidential election, 2004 provided an outstanding opportunity for manipulating both propaganda and disinformation by the Bush administration.

Taxpayer-funded Medicare Ads as Campaign Commercials

The Associated Press reported on February 5, 2004, that National Media, Inc. was "purchasing $9.5 million worth of television advertising for a 30-second commercial that the administration intends to educate older Americans about changes in Medicare such as the new prescription drug benefit, executives involved in the advertising campaign said Wednesday. ... Critics of the new law contended the firm's involvement is evidence that the administration is mounting a political rather than educational campaign for the new law." [1]

"The advertising firm that produced the ad, Campbell Ewald of Warren, Mich., has its own ad-buying division, a company executive said. [It is unknown] why Campbell-Ewald did not also purchase the air time." [2]

On February 13, 2004, the Associated Press reported that CBS had pulled a "Medicare ad pending review," since critics have alleged that the "ad [is a] commercial for Bush re-election."[3]

The publicly-funded 30-second ad "Same Medicare. More Benefits, has prompted strong criticism from Democratic lawmakers and a range of interest groups who say it is a barely disguised commercial for President Bush’s re-election campaign." The ad "for the new Medicare prescription drug law, [is] pending a review of its content by congressional investigators."

However, "Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department, said CBS’ decision was arbitrary, noting that the network accepted the ad and began airing it on Feb. 3. ... Keane said other television networks are continuing to run the ad. He said ABC insisted that the government edit part of the ad — which asserts that members 'can save with Medicare drug discount cards this June. And save more with prescription drug coverage in 2006' — to indicate that savings can vary. ... Spokesmen at ABC, CNN, Fox and NBC did not immediately provide comment Friday."

The Washington Post reported on March 14, 2004, that "Federal investigators are scrutinizing television segments in which the Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law, which would be offered to help elderly Americans with the costs of their prescription medicines." [4]

The Center for American Progress writes on March 15, 2004, that "Those earlier ads are being produced in conjunction with the President's campaign media firm, which is known for its deceptive tactics. All of these promotional materials are part of a mounting public relations campaign that could conflict with federal law prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used for partisan political purposes." [5]

Additionally, on February 5, 2004, the Center for American Progress reported that, "On top of the legal questions raised by using taxpayer money for political ads, and the ethical questions about sending that money to a firm representing the President and the drug industry, new questions are also being raised about the factual accuracy of the ads. As a new American Progress backgrounder shows, almost every claim made in the ads and in the advertised telephone hotline is false." [6]

In the same report, the Center informed that "Along with the new HHS television ads, the Administration is also devoting taxpayer money to a publicity campaign to stop states and communities from purchasing lower-priced FDA-approved meds from Canada. Specifically, 'the FDA started a campaign [February 4, 2004] to warn consumers that buying drugs from Canada can be dangerous' despite the fact that the 'FDA can't name a single American who's been injured or killed by drugs bought from licensed Canadian pharmacies.' The taxpayer-funded PR campaign follows the Administration's successful effort to strip House and Senate-passed provisions out of the Medicare bill that would have given seniors access to lower-priced meds from Canada. Although the project has not reached television, National Media is well-positioned to orchestrate ads on the reimportation issue as well. In 2000, the company aired ads for 'Citizens for Better Medicare' attacking lawmakers who want to give seniors access to lower-priced medicines in Canada." [7]


Preemptive War

On February 12, 2004, from UPI's Ted Rall: "Ken Starr, Call Your Office". Rall writes:

"The fight over Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction is turning surreal. As one post facto justification for the war after another is erased by incontrovertible reality--the WMD threat by the absence thereof, the Al Qaeda threat by simple logic, the liberation argument by the bombs Iraqis are setting off at every American they can--the Bushies are circulating a list of quotes by such leading Democrats as John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and President Bill Clinton slamming Saddam Hussein. Never mind that we impeached Clinton for lying under oath, argue the Republicans. Bush 'had the same intelligence [on Iraq] President Clinton had,' adds Laura Bush. Now there's a GOP talking point with legs.
"In other words, George W. Bush is trying to bolster his sinking credibility by equating his personal integrity to that of Bill Clinton. I won't argue the point, but Karl Rove is losing his touch. ... Of course there's a difference. Clinton relied on 1998 intelligence reports in 1998, not in 2003 as Bush did. And he used that now-discredited intel to bomb a few Iraqi radar stations--which, as many Democrats said at the time, he was wrong to do--not to launch a full-scale invasion.
"There's nothing new about presidents lying to con us into war. After North Vietnam allegedly fired torpedoes at a U.S. destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin, Lyndon B. Johnson convinced Congress to escalate U.S. involvement there. But secret White House tapes recorded LBJ's admission that the attack probably never happened. ... Ronald Reagan claimed that the government of Grenada had to be overthrown in order to save 600 American medical students from Marxist thugs, students 'rescued' by U.S. marines quizzically told reporters that they'd never felt menaced. Had they wanted to leave, they said, they could have gone to the airport and boarded a commercial flight.
"Previous military adventures were sold to the American people as acts of self-defense. We were fighting back in response to supposed attacks--or, as in the case of Grenada, an imminent attack. The Bush doctrine of preemptive war, a conflict fought to prevent a likely adversary from drawing first blood in the future, departs from that tradition."
"It would have been smarter to kick off the Bush Doctrine with an attack on a country that everybody agrees presents a genuine threat, like North Korea. Instead the Bushies rolled out their first preemptive war with all the launch-credibility of New Coke. They trotted out poor Colin L. Powell to deliver a laundry list of imaginary Iraqi WMDs to the United Nations that he privately called 'bullshit,' let Donald Rumsfeld go on and on about knowing 'exactly' where the WMDs were and hired a handpicked Republican, David A. Kay, as weapons inspector--a guy who in the end turned out to be too damned honest.
"'I expected to find the weapons,' Bush told Tim Russert last week. I believe him. They bet everything on that conviction. But Bush knew that he didn't have hard evidence. So he and his cabinet vamped it, figuring that the postwar discovery of vast stockpiles would silence critics. Now that there are no WMDs, the preemptive doctrine is toast. So is presidential credibility. Since Bush has lost his trillion-dollar gamble, it's time for him to pay off the casino and vacate the high rollers' suite."

Cheney's Energy Task Force

"...if the Vice President is not trying to cover up the fact that he met with big energy interests - including past contributors - and allowed them a large role in settling our nation's energy policy, why all the secrecy ? That is what other observers have suspected - and what has been rumored from the beginning. Thanks to Cheney's obfuscation, we still can't know for certain. Yet thanks to GAO, we do now know for certain that he lied to Congress to cover up something" --John W. Dean [8]

Promoting the Invasion of Iraq

Disinformation Regarding Science

  • According to a recent publication of the US House of Representatives, there are "numerous instances where the [Bush] Administration has manipulated the scientific progress and distorted or suppressed scientific findings." [9]
    • According to the report, the areas where disinformation are spread are global warming, missile defense, stem-cell research, abstinence education, condom use, and wetlands policy.
    • The means of disinformation used include: Appointing unqualified and biased personnel as advisors and into scientifc committees, including missleading information into Presidential speeches, presenting incorrect information to Congress, altering websites, and suppressing agency reports and scientifc publications.
    • According to a Nature editorial refering to the Waxman report (ref. below), "Bush committed early on an ideologically driven approach on major issues such as global warming, ballisitc missile defence and stem-cell research."
  • According to another Nature news message "nearly two dozen Nobel laureates and 40 other leading researchers have signed an angry statement accusing the Bush administration of "misrepresenting and suppressing scientific knowledge". (Nature 427, 663, 19 February 2004)


Close Personal and Financial Ties to Corporate Crooks

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