Americans Finally Have Access to American Propaganda

Radio Free Europe has an office in Prague. Radio Free Europe has an office in Prague. Flickr user hoder

A law went into effect this month that ends the ban on U.S. government-made propaganda from being broadcast to Americans. In a remarkably creative spin, the supporters of this law say that allowing Americans to see American propaganda is actually a victory for transparency. 

As Foreign Policy's John Hudson explains, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 went into effect July 2, and allows government-made news like Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks to reach Americans. These outlets "should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics," Sen. William Fulbright said in the 1970s. Fulbright and his allies said U.S. taxpayers should not have to pay for propaganda directed at them. But now the government says that's actually unfair to taxpayers. Broadcasting Board of Governors spokeswoman Lynne Weil said it's actually best for taxpayers to be able to see the propaganda, so they can serve as a check on it.  "Now Americans will be able to know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars--greater transparency is a win-win for all involved," she said. Likewise, a former government official said: "Previously, the legislation had the effect of clouding and hiding this stuff…. Now we'll have a better sense: Gee some of this stuff is really good. Or gee some of this stuff is really bad. At least we'll know now."

To be clear, only State Department-made news, not Pentagon-made news, will be available to Americans. Who are the targets? One example, Foreign Policy explains, is the Somali community in St. Paul, Minnesota. In Somalia, there are three choices for news, a government source said: "word of mouth, Al-Shabaab or VOA Somalia." While that's not true in Minnesota, the government still wants to reach Somalis: "Those people can get Al-Shabaab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn't get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VOA Somalia... It was silly."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.