Government Spent $254 Million Promoting Bush’s Re-Election

From this story, Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged TV News:

Some reports were produced to support the administration’s most cherished policy objectives, like regime change in Iraq or Medicare reform. Others focused on less prominent matters, like the administration’s efforts to offer free after-school tutoring, its campaign to curb childhood obesity, its initiatives to preserve forests and wetlands, its plans to fight computer viruses, even its attempts to fight holiday drunken driving. They often feature “interviews” with senior administration officials in which questions are scripted and answers rehearsed. Critics, though, are excluded, as are any hints of mismanagement, waste or controversy.

One specific example is the effort to promote Bush’s scam Medicare bill. Note how the taxpayer-funded ads were coordinated with Bush campaign themes:

Her Medicare report, for example, was distributed in January 2004, not long before Mr. Bush hit the campaign trail and cited the drug benefit as one of his major accomplishments.

The script suggested that local anchors lead into the report with this line: “In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare.” In the segment, Mr. Bush is shown signing the legislation as Ms. Ryan describes the new benefits and reports that “all people with Medicare will be able to get coverage that will lower their prescription drug spending.”

The segment made no mention of the many critics who decry the law as an expensive gift to the pharmaceutical industry. The G.A.O. found that the segment was “not strictly factual,” that it contained “notable omissions” and that it amounted to “a favorable report” about a controversial program.

And yet this news segment, like several others narrated by Ms. Ryan, reached an audience of millions. According to the accountability office, at least 40 stations ran some part of the Medicare report. Video news releases distributed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, including one narrated by Ms. Ryan, were shown on 300 stations and reached 22 million households.

Marketing people know that $254 million buys a lot of exposure. This reported $254 million is only money spent by the government on pro-Bush PR. It does not cover pro-Bush announcements, etc. by agencies of the government. And all this is on top of the $3-400 million per year spent by the Right’s network of think tanks, which was also outside of the reported Party $300 million-plus campaign spending. It also does not include the 24-hour-a-day Republican AM radio machine, Fox News, Republican newspapers, etc.