The General Accounting Office (GAO), an investigative arm of Congress, has determined that the Bush administration violated federal law by producing and disseminating television news segments that portray the new Medicare law as helpful to the elderly, according to the New York Times.
The agency said the videos were a form of "covert propaganda" because the government was not identified as the source of the news videos, which have been broadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets.
Two videos end with the voice of a woman who says, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting." A third video is narrated, in Spanish, by a man who identifies himself as "Alberto Garcia reporting." Said the GAO, "nothing in the story packages permits the viewer to know that Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia were paid with federal funds."
The GAO said the videos violated the prohibition on using taxpayer money for propaganda. The agency also noted that the videos were flawed by "notable omissions and weaknesses" in their explanation of the Medicare law.
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, said he was drafting legislation that would require the Bush campaign to reimburse the Medicare trust fund for the cost of the videos.
For the full story in the New York Times, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/20/politics/20medicare.html (Free registration required and article may no longer be available free of charge.)