Darrell Issa (R-CA), ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary Committee, has issued a 37-page report (PDF) that accuses the White House of “an unprecedented number of public relations and propaganda efforts,” including efforts that the committee found to be inappropriate or illegal.
Executive branch agencies cited in the propaganda efforts include the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, and the White House itself. The report also criticizes the White House for using the reach of the executive branch to funnel citizens to a website owned and operated by the Democratic National Committee.
According to the executive summary of the report:
The Obama Administration frequently used federal resources to promote the President’s agenda. In many cases, the Administration relied on the reach and resources of federal agencies and their personnel to promote certain of the President’s favorite programs. The White House also leveraged ties to the arts and entertainment community to embed propaganda in the content of television programming and artwork. These propaganda efforts violated appropriations riders and federal law prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for publicity or propaganda purposes.
The White House also used its inherent visibility advantages to multiply the effectiveness of websites containing misleading and controversial information. The White House used its resources to push visitors to websites that urge grassroots activism based on false and misleading information. The President’s right to sell his policy recommendations to Congress and the public is not disputed; however, using the resources of the federal government to activate a sophisticated propaganda and lobbying campaign is an abuse of office and a betrayal of the President’s pledge to create “an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”
Formally titled “Analysis of the First Year of the Obama Administration: Public Relations and Propaganda Initiatives,” the report accuses the administration of two basic types of propaganda to push the president’s agenda:
- Misusing the resources of federal agencies to publicize the president’s agenda; and,
- Multiplying traffic to websites containing propaganda by capitalizing on the visibility of the president and pre-existing campaign relationships.
One of the more shocking abuses listed in the report is the Department of Justice’s hiring of a liberal blogger, apparently with the express intention of attacking conservative bloggers.