The Clinton campaign's latest tactic in Ohio is, apparently, a radio ad that tries to make listeners think it's a news report until the very end.
Stuff like this, if it succeeds in fooling voters, fairly seriously pollutes the information environment by trying to steal the credibility of the news media and use it to present a biased, exagerrated set of facts. Why can't we rely on people who want to be president to not engage in the kind of creepy behavior that you teach your kids not to do?
March 2004, a letter Sen. Clinton signed with other senators:
Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through a public relations firm, distributed Video News Releases (VNRs) to numerous local television news stations across the country. These VNRs contain pre-scripted news story packages and B-Roll designed to influence local news station to run stories complimentary of the new Medicare law recently signed by President Bush. However, these VNRs may mislead many news stations because they do not identify that they are produced by the government. In addition, these materials are currently being evaluated to determine whether they are illegal "covert propaganda."
We urge you to immediately warn stations not to use these materials and pull any stories that use them.
These tapes can be identified as follows: Two English-language versions begin with B-Roll of video slides promoting the new Medicare law, followed by interview soundbites from Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and Leslie Norwalk, Acting Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Following these soundbites, a complete television news package is run, with a voice-over by a fictional reporter named "Karen Ryan." Following the news package, more B-Roll is provided, including scenes of President Bush's rally at the signing of the bill, scenes from a pharmacy and scenes of seniors playing table games.
It is critical to the credibility of an independent news media that covert government propaganda be rejected for use by news organizations. We also believe that honest government should not resort to such deceptive tactics, and it is our belief that these materials violate the above-mentioned Federal law. Thank you for your cooperation with this request.