Fake Bush news scandal

Several major US television stations and news networks are being investigated for broadcasting "fake" news segments produced by major corporations and the Bush administration.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the investigations after a report found over 70 TV stations had broadcast the segments, known as Video News Releases (VNRs), over a 10-month period and portrayed them as genuine news.

Produced by PR companies, the VNRs often featured actors posing as journalists conveying support for major corporations and the Bush administration. The releases are designed to appear as genuine, independent news items. The Centre for Media Democracy (CMD) report found that, in all 77 cases detailed, VNRs were broadcast without any indication of their source. Broadcasters are obliged by the FCC to inform viewers if any news item is sponsored.

Many of the VNRs were distributed by the Bush administration. Some talked up successes in the war in Iraq. One showed an Iraqi-American saying, "Thank you Bush. Thank you USA," and was broadcast with no mention that it had been produced by by the state department or that the man in question was in fact an actor.

During the 2004 presidential campaign the Bush administration admitted using actors to pose as journalists in news releases sent to TV stations.

Chris Connolly