Granny Rant
Monday, March 15, 2004
:::: Is It Real, Or Is It Actors? ::::
::: Paid To Pose As Journalists :::

U.S. Videos, for TV News, Come Under Scrutiny
By Robert Pear, The New York Times
Monday 15 March 2004

"In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting."

Yes, that is what the actress says at the end of two commercials produced for the
Bush Administration by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote
his Medicare law, including the new prescription drug benefit. DHHS calls these
"video news releases."

The videos are intended for use in local television news programs. Several include pictures of President Bush receiving a standing ovation from a crowd cheering as he signed the Medicare law on Dec. 8.

Alberto Garcia, another hired actor, takes the role of a Spanish reporter to help sway
Hispanic audiences, says the production company, Home Front Communications.

Other actors provide the dialogue for a pharmacist and an elderly customer, curious
about what benefits to expect from the newly adopted program.

Don't ask Granny, but this sounds a bit over the top .....
In one script, the administration suggests that anchors use this language: "In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare. Since then, there have been a lot of questions about how the law will help older Americans and people with disabilities. Reporter Karen Ryan helps sort through the details."

The "reporter" then explains the benefits of the new law.

Lawyers from the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, discovered the materials last month when they were looking into the use of federal money to pay for certain fliers and advertisements that publicize the Medicare law.

In a report to Congress last week, the lawyers said those fliers and advertisements were legal, despite "notable omissions and other weaknesses." Administration officials said the television news segments were also a legal, effective way to educate beneficiaries.

Hmmm .... sounds kinda fishy to me ... also ...

Kevin W. Keane, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said there was nothing nefarious about the television materials, which he said had been distributed to stations nationwide. Under federal law, he said, the government is required to inform beneficiaries about changes in Medicare.

Some had problems with the practice ... guess who ...

But Democrats disagreed. "These materials are even more disturbing than the Medicare flier and advertisements," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey. "The distribution of these videos is a covert attempt to manipulate the press."

Mr. Lautenberg, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and seven other members of Congress requested the original review by the accounting office.

In Tennessee, where Granny resides, the administration has been running ads promoting
the Medicare legislation. Unless there have been some changes made in the program, the
ads running here are a gnat's eyelash from being false advertising.

If you listen to every word uttered, the statements in the ads are not false, but they are
certainly misleading, especially to hopeful seniors who are now beginning to realize the
severe drawbacks and flaws contained in the law. (See article in Newsday below)

Bill Kovach, chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, expressed disbelief that any television stations would present the Medicare videos as real news segments, considering the current debate about the merits of the new law.

"Those to me are just the next thing to fraud," Mr. Kovach said. "It's running a paid advertisement in the heart of a news program."

*** Others Join In ... Register Opposition to Bush Ads ***

Groups counter Bush ads on new law


WASHINGTON -- In sharp contrast to the Bush administration's ad campaign touting the new Medicare law, a national health care advocacy group and other senior organizations have launched their own efforts to educate seniors about provisions in the controversial landmark measure.

Just another bait and switch ...

Michael Burgess of the New York Senior Action Council, an advocacy group, has found many seniors confused. "The bad thing is the confusion is turned into anger, because when people finally get the details explained to them, they don't like it," he said.

Could all this hype have anything to do with November? Granny wonders if the Bush
administration, having touted a thoroughly bogus bill, will not only be greeted at the
Republican Convention in New York City by thousands who plan to set up "Bushville,
A Tent City
, but also will have massive hoards of angry seniors pacing in front ot the
White House with torches and pitch forks.

Interested readers can find further outrages regarding the Medicare Sham, Greenspan
advising us to continue giving tax cuts to the rich ... BUT to avoid further increases to
the deficits, we should cut Social Security benefits
plus ... for your reading pleasure
... an angry Granny holding forth embedded in ::: Greenspan Completes The Betrayal :::

That's All Folks ... Gran

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