The law that has long kept government-supported media outlets – such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe – from being broadcast here in the U.S. was repealed on July 2nd with President Barack Obama’s signing of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.
In practical terms, that means that propagandist state media outlets ostensibly funded by taxpayers can now be aimed at the very taxpayers who’re funding them, right here in the U.S. Supporters of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 – the embedded legislation that lifted the ban – say the change actually opens the government to greater scrutiny by sharing with all the Nation the propaganda it’s been piping over to Europe, the Middle East and everywhere else but here.
Lynne Weil, a spokesperson for the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (that’s a government agency) said that Americans would now “be able to know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars – greater transparency is a win-win for all involved.”
Benevolent, no doubt. But John Hudson of Foreign Policy magazine offers a nice reminder of just how inevitable abuse is for government to begin interjecting its own voice in an effort to subvert the domestic enemies of the ruling class or to sell policy with half-truths (or outright lies):
[I]f anyone needed a reminder of the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, the past 12 months provided ample reasons. Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. Eventually, one of the co-owners of the firm confessed to creating phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously. Additionally, just this month, The Washington Post exposed a counter propaganda program by the Pentagon that recommended posting comments on a U.S. website run by a Somali expat with readers opposing [al-Quaeda group] Al-Shabaab.