Friday, December 02, 2005

More tax-funded propaganda

Last night's 360, in addition to an interview with the Big Dog, had an intriguing little expose of some US-taxpayer funded propaganda being produced and aired by FEMA - the Recovery Channel.

FOREMAN: This is the "Recovery Channel," produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and airing around the clock via satellite and the internet.

DIANNA GEE, RECOVERY CHANNEL ANCHOR: It could be the best day and the worst day. The day you finally get to go back to your storm- damaged home.

FOREMAN: FEMA conceived the channel years ago to spread important information after disasters. Following Katrina, it was on in shelters, a plain display about rebuilding, financial aid, help and more. But now, with FEMA accusing the mainstream media of failing to provide enough of that info, the "Recovery Channel" has undergone a makeover.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay with us. Together, we can build a bright future.

FOREMAN: And at the Annenberg School of Communication, Professor Joe Turow says it's turned into propaganda.

JOE TUROW, ANNENBERG SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION: Most of the information was really not the specific kind of factual information one might think, but rather feature and fluff pieces that seemed designed to aggrandize FEMA, and actually the Bush administration, too.

They ran several Recovery Channel pieces about how great everything is going. But apparently when FEMA learned that CNN was interested...
FOREMAN: When we contacted FEMA, a spokesperson defended the channel, but after reviewing the questions CNN raised, sent this statement: The agency, it says, is taking immediate measures to ensure that all programming is unmistakably labeled as an official FEMA resource. And it's eliminating any editorial content.


I spoke to FEMA today, that this thing somehow got a little bit away from them. How ever they started off, with a simple a simple sort of screen that just had some information on it, it grew and it grew until it became this big production number where they're saying all sorts of great things about the president and all sorts or great things about FEMA, which they may have liked. But they certainly didn't like the idea of it being exposed to this kind of scrutiny. Nonetheless, Anderson, I think neither you nor I will be on their Christmas card list this year.

COOPER: That is probably true. If somebody at home wants to try to see this, where they can logon, maybe they can see it online?

FOREMAN: Yes, you can try to track it down by doing a couple of search words on this thing. If you just look for "Recovery Channel." Although, I have to tell you, a couple hours ago -- I had been watching it all day, and all of a sudden it just went to a black screen and they started just putting up the words Discovery -- or excuse me, "Recovery Channel," and stay tuned for programming. And the person I spoke to at FEMA today told me they are reworking this right now so that if they watch it, they should not be seeing almost immediately what we had in our report and what was on most of the day today.

For the record, I think the concept of a Recovery Channel is a great idea. Like so many things, it's all in execution. Rather than self-aggrandizing pieces on how great things are going, due to the wonderful leadership of our 'Commander in Chief' (and why a non-military organization is even using that phrase is beyond me), they might try producing pieces that walk you thru the process of, say, getting a FEMA trailer on your lot to live in during rebuilding, or how to get your utilities hooked back up, or something of direct use to disaster victims.


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