A 2006 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report reveals what we already know—that the Bush administration has been buying news. That is, federally funded public relations contracts to report "news" that spouts a predetermined agenda written by the Bush administration—all while the networks and other agencies that air the instanews disclose nothing about the source of the information. What we did not know was how enormous the expense was, and why the media, who may also be on the government payroll, are not making huge efforts to publicize this finding (or maybe we know that too).
State-run media might be nothing out of the ordinary in a country such as, um, North Korea. But here in the U.S., we like to think our media at least retains a semblance of democracy and objectivity.
What the Bush administration is doing is a violation of federal law and therefore fraudulent. (Hey, they're already culpable for the lives of thousands of service men and women, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians, and certainly Pat Tillman, so what's a little fraud among friends?)
The No Child Left Behind law was a big recipient of the funds, as we choked on the information that the law was good for us and for our kids. But who was really benefiting from the No Child Left Behind contracts? Maybe the extended Bush family, who have lucrative deals to provide software and other goodies for school kids across the country?
- Department of Homeland Security for how to respond to terrorist attacks
- Transportation Security Administration for airport security procedures
- Bureau of Reclamation for how to deal with the media
$1.6 Billion would probably save most of the left-behind children from being left behind in the first place, and they might have a chance to grow up to know the difference between a state-run media and a democratic one. But the fraud perpetrated on us with our own money is something, to mutilate a purported Churchill phrase, up with which we should not put.