The U.S. Department of Education used taxpayer dollars to fund a “video news release” designed to look like a television news report touting the benefits of the No Child Left Behind law, according to materials obtained by People For the American Way Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The same Department of Education contract also provided for ratings of journalists’ coverage of education issues. Among the criteria used in rating stories were whether the story depicted the Bush Administration and the Republican Party as committed to education.
“The Bush administration seems to have made a habit of using taxpayer dollars to pay for partisan propaganda,” said People For the American Way Foundation Education Policy Director Nancy Keenan, noting that PFAWF has also documented the Department of Education’s spending of millions of dollars in discretionary funding to support groups promoting the administration’s political agenda.
The phony news story was prepared by the same company, using the same “reporter,” as a similar video news release about Medicare issues that was determined earlier this year by the General Accounting Office to have violated federal anti-propaganda laws. When one television station used Education Department’s release, but had its own reporter re-record the audio, the Department posted the resulting story as news on its website.