People outside of Prince George’s County, Maryland might not be aware of it, but the Pentagon launched a new cable channel recently, and CNN is concerned that this might be a violation of a 50-year-old law barring the government from creating propaganda. CNN’s Jamie McIntyre reported on today’s “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees”:
“The Pentagon Channel originates from studios here in Alexandria, Virginia. There's everything here you'd expect to find in a modern television station, cameras, teleprompters, computers. The one thing it says it doesn't have is an agenda to advance administration policies.”
However, to counter this view, McIntyre asked the opinion of former CNN correspondent and current University of Delaware Professor Ralph Begleiter:
“You want to have radio free America or some such hypothetical title, broadcasting propaganda to the United States, no. We don't allow that in this country. It's a law.”
What follows is a full transcript of this report, along with a video link.
COOPER: You may not know this, but a little over a year ago the Pentagon launched its own television channel, the first ever to carry official news and information from the U.S. government. Now critics are beginning to question whether that violates the spirit of a 50- year-old law aimed at barring the government from creating propaganda aimed at the American public. Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Bush says winning the war in Iraq will require more sacrifice.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cable subscribers in the Washington D.C. suburb of Prince George's County are the latest in a potential audience of 12 million households who can now watch the Pentagon Channel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Operations aimed at stabilizing Iraq before the referendum in upcoming election are going well.
MCINTYRE: The news channel's slogan is serving those who serve.
MEL RUSSELL, SENIOR MANAGER, PENTAGON CHANNEL: We use only uniformed broadcasters on the air so they know it's a military channel.
MCINTYRE (on camera): The Pentagon Channel originates from studios here in Alexandria, Virginia. There's everything here you'd expect to find in a modern television station, cameras, teleprompters, computers. The one thing it says it doesn't have is an agenda to advance administration policies.
(voice-over): Petty Officer First Class Jennifer Gray anchors the evening's main news cast.
PETTY OFFICER 1st CLASS JENNIFER GRAY, U.S. NAVY: No one ever tells do not write this. Take this slant.
MCINTYRE: But at the University of Delaware Journalism Professor Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN correspondent, asked his students to consider whether the Pentagon Channel could also be a propaganda tool.
RALPH BEGLEITER, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: You want to have radio free America or some such hypothetical title, broadcasting propaganda to the United States, no. We don't allow that in this country. It's a law. MCINTYRE: He's referring to a 1948 ban that stops the government from controlling the news sent to domestic audiences. A law inspired by abuses in Nazi Germany. But Pentagon officials say the Pentagon Channel is simply internal communications for the military. And rejects the idea its programming is propaganda.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would totally disagree with that. Absolutely.
MCINTYRE: While much of the Pentagon Channel programming is more like CSPAN than CNN, this original documentary called Inside the Wire purports to show that the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo is humane. That argues Professor Begleiter sounds a lot like the Bush administration version of the truth.
BEGLEITER: Well, let's say you need to know about treatment of prisoners. Would you get the full story from the Pentagon Channel? No, you would get what the Pentagon wanted you to know about treatment of prisoners.
MCINTYRE: Begleiter's warning to his students, when watching the Pentagon Channel, consider the source. Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.