Covert propaganda isn't unique to D or R. But as Rep. Darrell Issa noted then:
“Using new technologies & the remnants of the most expensive presidential campaign in history, the Obama Administration’s use of taxpayer dollars to engage in covert propaganda is disconcerting."
I got kicked off the Internet as soon as I tweeted that. Interestingly the VPN was still on, and I was still technically on the wifi. This happens *all* the time. Maybe it's my computer, but then my computer sure has interesting timing.
As a civil servant I have volunteered with and also chaired the Federal Communicators Network. My columns posted in GovExec, GovLoop, Government in the Lab, etc. Co-wrote a paper on standardizing federal communication in 2016.
I also host a group on Facebook dedicated to government communication best practices. So I am very passionate about this subject. I do believe that enforcing nonpartisan standards is the best thing for everyone.
Studied organizational development in addition to sociology. I believe that corruption festers when people are allowed to create workarounds that flout the law.
I also believe that civil servants, insofar as propaganda occurs, are mostly used as patsies for the actions of the truly bad actors...and maybe I am just young, but this thing of political appointees burrowing in to carry on Obama priorities is just astonishingly out of whack.
They tried to pass a law against this; it passed in the House of Representatives in 2018; and then it died.
In 2005, the Congressional Research Service - Library of Congress (Kevin Kosar) wrote an excellent white paper on federal agency propaganda. The main takeaway are that 1) both sides do it and 2) defining it can be difficult
Of course, if you would establish clear standards then it would be easier to define...why isn't that done...exactly.
In 1887 President Woodrow Wilson wrote "The Study of Administration" about the fact that public service is a discipline all its own. He conceived of public opinion as the voice of the "authoritative critic" against the machine.
President Wilson wasn't concerned in his essay with promoting one political ideology over another but rather which preserving the entire system. To continue his thoughts on public opinion:
"The problem is to make public opinion efficient without suffering it to be meddlesome"
In other words, you don't want to run the country by poll.
President Wilson also famously said: "A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men." /1
President Wilson quote, continued: "We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world." /2
President Wilson, to end the quote: "No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men." /3
So a good president intentionally draws a hard line between information and partisan propaganda. A bad president blurs the line.
Of course, it goes without saying, government communication is a national security issue for a lot of reasons.
It is an even bigger national security issue if a president is compromised.
Do you remember when President Bush came under fire for "prepackaged news" that you couldn't tell was actually from the government?
As things go forward and the coup is revealed for what it is, incontrovertibly, we are going to have to deal with the fallout from the abuse of the civil service over the decades.
In particular the communication function has been deeply degraded.
The key question we will have to ask ourselves, in light of all the corruption that's gone on, is what communication work is "inherently governmental" and how do we protect that from exploitation by greedy contractors as well as national/state enemies.
A 2017 GAO report highlighted federal agency outreach spending. I personally think, and I could be wrong here, that the private sector does marketing far better than the government.
But as I said above, anything involving advertising/marketing can be done by the private sector **in my opinion** overseen by federal employees.
Even communications that explain how to comply with the law can be done by private entities. Often it is very difficult to understand government language and/or it takes a long time for the government to change sufficiently to meet public demand.
Reasonable people can sit down and hash this stuff out. The underlying requirement however is that there are no hidden agendas going on. This is why we have to work so hard to keep the mostly hidden hand of corruption out of the government.
It can creep in anywhere, invisibly.
By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own. Public domain.
The odd thing is that the left, or should I say the radical left, seems to live and die on narrative, rather than on life itself. An insult can get someone fired (ask @therealroseanne) but murdering a fetus is somehow championed as an act of liberation.