HHS' sock puppet

NYT story here:

The GAO says the videos are legal, but that’s not the point, IMHO.

I’m sure it is, Mr. Keane, but it’s kinda nice when it’s clear who’s providing the news. If the Department of Health and Human Services wants to put out a press release, whether on paper, video, or over the Web, they should damned well ID themselves as such, and failing that, they should absolutely, unquestionably make no attempt to give the impression that the message is coming from a third party. It’s disgraceful for the government to be passing off its message as coming from an independent reporter.

Psst, oh honorable leader of Fredonia: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=245233.

Well, yeah, but . . . Isn’t it the fucking reporter’s job to report the facts? If the administration has identified some lazy lapdogs within the media, of course they’re gonna take advantage of 'em. As Mr. Keane notes, there’s nothing at all new about that. On the other hand, if you suspect a reporter of bias, or laziness, or of not reporting the full story for whatever reason, you’re free to ignore the guy.


What reporter? There was no reporter. That was a paid-for HHS sock that was paid to pretend to be a reporter for purposes of the video.

Hence the thread title.

And Jeff, my apologies for missing SanibelMan’s thread.

No apology necessary. It’s just that all these duplicate threads lately are getting annoying.

No reporter? Then who is this?

Or am I to understand that you’re griping about something that didn’t even happen? The HHS dangled this bait to the media, and they refused to bite? If you were griping about a stupid waste of taxpayer dollars, I’d be with ya, but you seem to be bitching about the failure of a plan you don’t like. And trying to make it into an issue exclusive to this administration - when it ain’t.

I think you’re losing your perspective, man.

Uncle Beer, the “reporter” is the person who does the voice over on the ad and pretends to be a reporter for the media outlet, when they are actually a paid actor.

The media apparently have bitten too. There were a couple of states cited in the links - I believe one was Oklahoma.

Get the facts before you bitch.

(Forgot this is the Pit. Goat-pleasuring son of a one-eyed whore. Just wanted to say that.)

Is this sorta like the firemen in Bushco’s campaign commercial that were paid actors instead of real firemen?

Almost exactly like that, Reeder, except that the paid actor is actually standing in for the real thing.

In either case, chances are that people are gonna get burned.

Well, it won’t be the actress, that’s for certain.

I know that this happens in the entertainment field all the time. Episodes where a perfomer (say, a certain drummer from a Canadian power trio that I’m really fond of) will be interviewed by some flack and then the interview with the flack’s questions deleted so the local host can ask the questions. It’s a little weaselly on those terms.

To do it in a real (non-fluff) news report is reprehensible, unprofessional and at worst speaks poorly of the character of those who participate.

And that most especially includes the editor/program director who chose to run the story. I certainly know that the bite-sized outlets need help getting more than local interest stories on their news but for God’s sake heads should roll at any station that swallowed this.

And I mean that in it’s most literal sense. Any content-decider that elected to go with this deserves a blacklist. Go flip burgers you idiots.

<Family Guy>

Tom Tucker: No, Mr Hoffman, I am not trying to seduce you!

</Family Guy>

You are correct. I see that I am, as usual, stupidly mistaken.

From the article linked:

My sincere apologies to you Mr. Firefly. Your perspective on this issue appears to be just fine. But it’s still a stupid waste of taxpayer dollars. And Frank Lautenberg, even tho’ I detest the man for other reasons, might just be correct (oh, the horror!); would seem to have the potentional to be illegal “propaganda.”

And there’s probably plenty of blame to go 'round that we can still pile some on the “news” stations airing this crap. Or their directors at least.

Funny you should mention this. My radio station just got such a CD from the people doing the college promotion of The Passion of the Christ. The whole thing is horribly obnoxious; apparently we’re supposed to violate our university-granted charter and use this as a “witnessing” opportunity because the materials enclosed with the CD encourage honest discussion about our faith and how the movie enriches it, or some shit.

The grad assistant decided not to use the CD as is. Instead, we’re going to have some fun with it. Nothin’ in the rules against having fun with it. I’ll let you know how it turns out. :wink:

In any event, part of the reason why video news releases are used is that legitimate reporting staffs are shrinking, and there’s still that same time to fill. Doesn’t make it right to air such a thing unquestioned, though.


Well, I haven’t seen the video’s. Do they include the part about how that guy will get fired if he releases the negative information about the medicare bill or did that part get edited?

I looked up the use of VNRs in the AP’s broadcast stylebook, and the short answer is that they’re not supposed to be used as is. A reporter should check the facts first and present all sides to the story. For an example, a company’s VNR involving working conditions should be checked to make sure that the facility in the VNR is the same as the facility that was complained about, that the people featured in the VNR are actual company employees, and that the opposition’s side be shown, as well.

That said, many smaller stations do not have large reporting staffs, nor do they have large budgets. Slick, well-produced VNRs are thus very tempting because they fill airtime without costing the station anything.


Just integrity and respect.

If you don’t have the cash to be in the game do something else.

What JC said.

Especially since TV stations used to have the money to do actual reporting, back in the days when no licensee could own more than 7 TV stations. Now that they’re almost all owned by big, rich corporate conglomerates, the money is there, alright, but it’s going to the stockholders and the corporate execs. Gotta keep those earnings figures moving up, you know.

But ISTM that this is a malaise that’s affecting the entire news biz. When I see the NYT and the WaPo reporting the most dubious ‘facts’ the Administration feeds them with a straight face, without bothering to verify their accuracy (especially in this day and age where you don’t have to be a reporter to do some pretty extensive online research and fact-checking), it really makes a person wonder WTF’s going on.

Unc - apology accepted. I’ll leave the call on whether it’s illegal or not to others; that call probably involves some fine legal distinctions. But definitely both wrong and a waste of our tax dollars, even if the amount is probably minuscule.

And even minuscule wastes of tax dollars rile me. As one who believes that in many cases, Federal spending can accomplish genuine good, I know how each Federal dollar spent in a ridiculous manner undermines the case that it should be allowed the opportunity to do so.

I’ve heard it claimed that the major news media outlets have been threatened by the Bush White House – negative coverage of the President will result in loss of access to the President, members of the Administration, membership in the White House Press Corps., and other such retributlatory stuff. The news outlets, afraid of losing the smallest competitive advantage over their opponents, end up toeing the line to keep their access.

A quick example: Amanpour: CNN practiced self-censorship