FCC investigates Pentagon domestic propaganda allegations

[via Washington Post]

The Federal Communications Commission today said it has launched a probe into allegations that the Department of Defense paid former military officers to present favorable view of the war in Iraq on television shows.

The allegations were brought to light by The New York Times in April, and key lawmakers such as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) have pushed for the FCC to investigate the claims.

The FCC last week sent letters to 19 former military officers and five TV networks, according to Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. FCC spokesman Clyde Ensslin confirmed the enforcement bureau sent the letters but didn't elaborate on details of the letters and didn't identify the networks and former military officers.

"The people have the right under the law to know whether someone espousing an opinion has been paid to do so or if they are giving independent judgment so that the public can evaluate the full picture," Adelstein said.

According to the Times story, the Department of Defense ran a program to use former officers as military analysts to act as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" to deliver the administration's views on the war in Iraq and conditions at Guantanamo Bay. Many of those analysts were simultaneously representing more than 150 companies competing for billions of dollars in Defense contracts for the Pentagon.

Key lawmakers have expressed concern that such practices -- which included using Defense Department funds for commercial airfare on trips to Iraq -- violate sponsorship identification laws.

"When seemingly objective television commentators are in fact highly motivated to promote the agenda of a government agency, a gross violation of the public trust occurs," wrote Dingell and House Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in a letter to the FCC last May.

article originally published at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/posttech/2008/10/fcc_investigates_claims_bush_a....

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey