The Center for Media and Democracy and Free Press have filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission urging an investigation of the extensive airing of "fake news" by TV broadcasters who take government and corporate Video News Release (VNR) stories and run them unlabeled as real journalism. In just one week nearly 40,000 citizens have signed our petition calling on the FCC, Congress and local broadcasters to stop fake news.
The petition seeks to strengthen and enforce laws against government propaganda and demands "that the Bush administration stop using our tax dollars to create fake news reports." The Center and Free Press hope to gather a quarter million signatures and begin organizing citizens locally to meet with stations in their community to sign agreements to stop airing all VNRs unless they are clearly labeled and not pawned off as news.
Sheldon Rampton and I first reported on fake news over a decade ago.
Revelations over the past year have finally moved this issue into public
consciousness and we've already gathered 40,000 signatures on our petition. We have no illusions that the filing of this complaint will solve the
problem. This is a corruption now deeply embedded in TV media and corporate
and government propaganda practices. Fake news has been produced and aired
covertly for decades, and is now a business involving billions of dollars
for broadcasters, PR firms and their clients.>
Recent revelations in the print and on-line media, and the findings by
Congress's Government Accountability Office (GAO) that VNRs from the Bush
administration are illegal "covert propaganda," have created a unique
opportunity for activism. Our organization has moved rapidly with Free Press to build momentum both at
the regulatory level and most importantly among the grassroots public to
expose and stop fake news. This will continue to be a major focus of our
work and we are excited by the new momentum and awareness surrounding the
scandal of fake TV news. We hope to mobilize this growing public outrage
into real media reform.