it's not just Armstrong, Gannon/Guckert and their pals
February 14, 2006 7:50 AM   Subscribe

The Price of Payola and Fake News? 1.6 billion dollars for just 2003-5 alone. The GAO's new report lays it out. That's how much seven federal departments spent from 2003 through the second quarter of 2005 on 343 contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations and individuals, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. ... The new report reveals that federal public relations spending goes far beyond "video news releases." (full report is a PDF download from there) And there's another scandal coming, if Wonkette has it right.
posted by amberglow (25 comments total)
The money is good if the story is right.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:10 AM on February 14, 2006

I for one am shocked. Shocked I tell you, shocked.
posted by slapshot57 at 8:12 AM on February 14, 2006

Almost as much as the combined $'s under George Bush's faith-based slush fund rubric.
posted by troutfishing at 8:18 AM on February 14, 2006

Thanks for the link, amber -- this is an important story.

Cost of the Bush/Rove PR juggernaut: $1.6 billion.
Cost of the food stamp program for destitute seniors that Bush has cut from the national budget: $110 million.

p.s. -- I love how the apathists feel compelled to chime in with every new Bush-related FPP even before reading the link, sorta like people arriving early at a party and declaring: "I hate parties! Why bother with all this fuss and so-called fun? You guys are losers!"
posted by digaman at 8:21 AM on February 14, 2006

let them eat newspapers!
posted by matteo at 8:27 AM on February 14, 2006

the destitute seniors, not the apathists
posted by matteo at 8:29 AM on February 14, 2006

For the benefit of those whose minds gloss over anything that ends with "illions," thats one thousand six hundred million dollars, or $1,600,000,000.00.

Or if you prefer, enough money to hire over 96,000 people for a year at $8 per hour.
posted by ilsa at 8:35 AM on February 14, 2006

Matteo-Antoniette :)

Some picking for the big PDF

Army commissioned company (?) W74V8H-04-F-1151 the work of " Media pitches,speakers service, and bureau, and news story developement in support of Soldiers in the Global War on Terror" for roughtl USD 1 million

Outsourced psyops !? Damn hope they didn't outsource that to China.

Jokes aside, 1.6 billion is quite some money...let's see this purely hypothetical scenario

Govt: I need some advertising about discrimination, that's part of my job and my electorare expects it
Corp Salesman: Great !
Govt : So let's see ..two about niggers, one about sandniggers, one about wops
Corp: allright allright :) african americans, arabians, italians
Govt: yeah yeah you pub relations speak so well it's almost as dick call it lip service ?
Corp: mmscjjdmmhhyeah
Govt: sooooooo let's see ..your lip service is good, but I see there is some other good lipservice here..mhhhh
Corp: We specialize in deniggerizing vertisement !
Govt: so does your competitor..mmhhh...what if I help you get the job :)
Corp: *bends over* here take my flower !
Govt: not so fast you fruit ! What about speaking well about XYZ
Corp: mmmhh that wouldn't be nice...but my friend over that other TV could :)
Govt: make it so :)
posted by elpapacito at 8:36 AM on February 14, 2006

Let's be reasonable. The amount of money needed for propaganda is in direct proportion to the shitiness of the job being done. For this administration, 1.6B seems like a bargain. I wouldn't do it for a penny less.
posted by a_day_late at 8:48 AM on February 14, 2006

It's hard, expensive work to try to polish a turd.
I could see where 1.6B could be used, but really, all they had to do was add a neck strap and call it an iTurd.
posted by Balisong at 9:11 AM on February 14, 2006

So, now that democracy is pretty much rotting on the funeral pyre, waiting to be sparked up, what's for lunch?
posted by wakko at 9:58 AM on February 14, 2006

posted by The Card Cheat at 10:01 AM on February 14, 2006

Mm, delicious apathy.
posted by wakko at 10:08 AM on February 14, 2006

As American as apathy pie and I scream.
posted by Jawn at 10:42 AM on February 14, 2006

Cost of the Bush/Rove PR juggernaut: $1.6 billion.
Cost of the food stamp program for destitute seniors that Bush has cut from the national budget: $110 million.

Digaman, good for you to compare, but note that the $1.6 billion figure is for 2003, 2004, and the first half of 2005. We don't know when the contracts were awarded and when they were paid, but spreading it evenly, we're looking at something like $640 million in 2005.

Still, it is very telling that so much would be spent in such a manner.
posted by bugmuncher at 10:46 AM on February 14, 2006

Wow that is a lot of money for fake news. Some of it, we ought to remember, is normal and necessary (Gov't agencies have programs and need to get the word out) but I am interested in the pure turd-polishing that's been going on.
posted by chaz at 11:00 AM on February 14, 2006

And let's not forget the $14 000 000 given over to Pat Robertson. You can bet that's taxpayer money well-spent.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:01 AM on February 14, 2006

U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies: $7 billion over 5 years
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:04 AM on February 14, 2006

You know what this means, in all seriousness?

It means that in the near future the GAO will most likely come under severe pressure, either to change its mission to something more partisan-thief-Republican friendly, or simply be eliminated (although that's unlikely with something as big as the GAO).

It's been the Republican modus operandi since 1994. Anything that contradicts the official party line is either co-opted or axed (see NASA, NOAA, the Congressional Research Service, et al.)

Soviet America, people, I keep telling you that. Republicans want to run their party the way Soviet communists ran theirs.
posted by teece at 12:17 PM on February 14, 2006


So who is leading the revolution?
posted by 517 at 12:24 PM on February 14, 2006

Oh, teece. That cutting of irrelevant programs is just 'cause Republicanism is all about small government! The fact that they only cut programs that disagree with them is just a coincidence.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:27 PM on February 14, 2006 I wanted to draw your attention to it. I'll say it again, $1.6 billion. You can do a lot of good with that kind of money -- support the rebuilding of our Gulf Coast, invest in medical research, increase scholarship and student loan programs, even pay down the deficit.

* House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's diary
posted by amberglow at 7:58 PM on February 14, 2006

Thanks Balison. That was good.

Expensive snakeoil, if you ask me. Much nicer when things like employment improve, so you don't have to pay for spin. But at least the queers can't marry.
posted by Goofyy at 11:57 PM on February 14, 2006

More on the Lincoln Group, one of the beneficiaries of millions of this money--... Lincoln won its contracts after claiming to have partnerships with major media and advertising companies, former government officials with extensive Middle East experience, and ex-military officers with background in intelligence and psychological warfare, the documents show. But some of those companies and individuals say their associations were fleeting.
Lincoln has also run into problems delivering on work for the military after its partnerships with more experienced firms fell apart, company documents and interviews indicate. The firm has continued to bid for new business from the Pentagon and has hired two Washington lobbying firms to promote itself on Capitol Hill and with the Bush administration.
"They appear very professional on the surface, then you dig a little deeper and you find that they are pretty amateurish," said Jason Santamaria, a former Marine officer whom the company once described as a "strategic adviser."
The company's work in Iraq, where Mr. Bailey and Mr. Craig visit from time to time to direct operations, is facing growing scrutiny.
The Pentagon's inspector general last month opened an audit of Lincoln Group's contracts there, according to two Defense Department officials. A separate inquiry ordered by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, after disclosures late last year that Lincoln Group paid Iraqi publications to run one-sided stories by American soldiers, has been completed but not made public, military officials said. ...

posted by amberglow at 5:40 AM on February 15, 2006

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