18. The DNC Leaks and Domestic Propaganda

Have you ever been struck by "media bias" of one variety or another? Have you encountered "news" that seems intended to further a specific agenda, rather than serving as an objective source of information? WikiLeaks' recent release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails confirmed the suspicions of Bernie Sanders' supporters by exposing the cooperative, duplicitous relationship between DNC functionaries and members of the press -- a relationship intent upon the advancement of Hillary Clinton's candidacy at the expense of Senator Sanders'.

While this story has received some well-deserved attention, few people are aware of a far more unsettling, media-related event with lasting consequences. In the early years of the Cold War, the State Department initiated programs to disseminate information generated by the US government in foreign countries. This campaign was rationalized as a counter-measure to Soviet propaganda, and such media was typically delivered under the auspices of US-funded broadcasting agencies like the Voice of America (VOA).

To ensure that foreign populations remained the sole targets of such propaganda efforts, Congress passed the Smith-Mundt Act in 1948 which forbade the domestic delivery of such programming. However, in 2013, Congress and President Obama nullified this prohibition, thereby authorizing the use of taxpayer money for the domestic distribution of government-created "news."

The relationship between the US government and mainstream media has long been a cozy one, as evidenced, for example, by the 'revolving door' between these powerful institutions, or the orchestrated propaganda campaign during the march to war in Iraq. However, the legalization of the domestic use of US propaganda should concern anyone skeptical of centralized power. With this act, the US government can now directly deliver its spin on current events to the American populace, an arrangement that's bound to be abused in coming years. 

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 Propaganda Tee

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