May 20, 2004
Breaking the Law
How many laws can you break in the passage of a law?
Today, the verdict comes down from the GAO on the fake news reports put out to push the Medicare Bill / Bush Campaign:The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Wednesday that the Bush administration had violated federal law by producing and disseminating television news segments that portray the new Medicare law as a boon to the elderly.
The agency said the videos were a form of “covert propaganda” because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, broadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets. The agency also expressed some concern about the content of the videos, but based its ruling on the lack of disclosure.
And as we know, the Congressional Research Service recently determined that laws were also broken when a “gag rule” was put on Medicare actuary Richard Foster over the costs of the bill. And don’t forget the essentially proven allegations of threats and bribery on the House floor of Nick Smith.
Frankly, this has to be said. While we’re supposedly watching the decent Republicans separate from the bottom feeders like Tom DeLay on the Abu Ghraib scandal, just remember that none of them are saying or doing anything about this. We’ll revisit the propaganda issue when more comes in from our side…
Update: During the first round with the GAO over print and regular TV advertisments, the verdict was that they were “misleading,” but not illegal. We joked at the time, asking, “What do you say, GOP, good enough for you?” To our surprise and disgust, it was, and the ads continue to play nationwide. Now they appear to have a similar attitude this time around:
Bill Pierce, a Health and Human Services spokesman, said nothing in the GAO report precludes the department from distributing them in the future. Pierce blamed television stations that “chose not to identify the source of the material.”
No shame in sight.
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