“To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news”

That line comes from a New York Times story today on government produced “news reports” run as news on local television stations. This practice is illegal, says the comptroller general, speaking of the reports slickly “designed to fit seamlessly into the typical local news broadcast.” But just as newspapers have occasionally run press releases as news, local television stations are running video news releases as news, including one featuring an Iraqi visiting Kansas City, expressing gratitude for the devastation we have wrought upon his country. Evidently, there have been a number of these reports, reinforcing the ideology of the Bush Administration. “[M]ost news directors were at a loss to explain how the segments made it on the air. Some said they were unable to find archive tapes that would help answer the question. Others promised to look into it, then stopped returning telephone messages. A few removed the segments from their Web sites, promised greater vigilance in the future or pleaded ignorance.”

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