An online radio host is sounding the alarm over a brand-new law he claims grants the federal government massive new powers to saturate Americans with domestic propaganda at U.S. taxpayer expense.
“This law allows the federal government to have sweeping power to push television, radio, newspaper and social-media propaganda onto the U.S. public,” warns Michael Evans of America’s Voice Now.
“It removes protection for Americans from the ideological diarrhea that will pour forth from this administration like ejected vomit.”
Evans is referring to the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Rep. Adam Smith, D- Wash., which was inserted into the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
According to John Hudson of Foreign Policy Magazine, “For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts.”
The U.S. government has been in the business of broadcasting news and opinions into foreign countries through such famous outlets as the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.
But now, critics believe millions of dollars will be spent by the government trying to influence citizens within its own borders.
Evans says America has been protected from this over the years for good reason.
“The types of information that we promulgate overseas to foreigners is disinformation. It is meant to confuse, distract, redirect. It is not meant to be an informative source of news,” he explained.
“Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. There is already, for all intents and purposes, an organization in the United States that does this. It’s called MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News. They are an arm of propaganda. But if you think things were bad before with those groups, wait till you see what’s gonna come out of them now. They’ll be reporting government misinformation as factual news stories, and a gullible American public will swallow it hook, line and sinker.”
The bill itself states: “The Secretary and the Broadcasting Board of Governors are authorized to use funds appropriated or otherwise made available for public diplomacy information programs to provide for the preparation, dissemination, and use of information intended for foreign audiences abroad about the United States, its people, and its policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, the Internet, and other information media, including social media, and through information centers, instructors, and other direct or indirect means of communication. …
It also notes: “No funds authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States.”
Yet there’s also a provision indicating produced material can be used inside the U.S., stating: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure. Such material may be made available within the United States and disseminated … .”
Evans took special note about the funds “appropriated or otherwise made available.”
“It doesn’t open a door. It doesn’t open a window,” he explains. “It opens a wall that will allow NGOs, non-governmental organizations, who have a globalist ideology and a globalist agenda, to fund this type of abuse.”
Because the measure is so new, Evans says America hasn’t even begun to see its effects yet.
“All this nonsense about the Department of Justice organizing, participating and assisting in Trayvon Martin reprisal rallies – that’s exactly what you’re gonna get, and you’re gonna get it by a landslide. You haven’t even begun to smell the danger of this one yet, people. And here’s the worst part. You’ll never know if what you’re hearing is true news or propaganda. So the idea that there can be a news media that can inform the American public is forever gone. You’ll never know going forward if this is propaganda or if this is a news story.”
He continued: “The low-information, vast majority of America, the people who are willing to accept whatever is basically poured into their ears, will be so inundated with disinformation, they will never even be aware that they’re being played, that they are being used, that they are pawns for manipulation to achieve government’s nefarious ends. And I do mean nefarious because only a government who had evil intent would attempt to utilize a tactic like this.”
Evans is even breaking out the “T-word,” calling the measure “treason.”
“When you violate your oath and you work against the best interests of your nation willfully, knowingly, with malice aforethought, ladies and gentlemen, that qualifies as treason. I’m telling you now that your government is acting in open, undeclared, but blatant treason,” he said.
He also believes Americans will actually be paying for the propaganda used on them.
“The idea that you are willing to pay for your own demise through taxpayer-funded boondoggles like this and many others is an unconscionable use of the taxing authority,” Evans said.
Lynne Weil, a spokeswoman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, denies her agency is a propaganda outlet, and maintains current BBG services such as the Voice of America “present fair and accurate news.”
“They don’t shy away from stories that don’t shed the best light on the United States,” she told Foreign Policy. “Our journalists provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.”
Congressman Smith has vehemently denied the claim of domestic propaganda, saying the measure “does not authorize any U.S. government agency to develop propaganda for a domestic audience nor is that our intent.”
He says it’s “intended to provide greater transparency and to ensure the U.S. government can get factual information out to foreign audiences in a timely manner for many reasons including countering extremist misinformation and propaganda. It does not and is not in any way intended to ‘legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences,’ it does not neutralize or repeal Smith-Mundt and, in fact, it specifically ensures that the content to be rebroadcast or republished domestically by the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall not influence public opinion in the U.S.”
Foreign Policy pointed to the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, citing examples from the past 12 months.
Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. Eventually, one of the co-owners of the firm confessed to creating phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously.
Additionally, just this month, the Washington Post exposed a counter-propaganda program by the Pentagon that recommended posting comments on a U.S. website run by a Somali expat with readers opposing al-Shabab (an Islamist militia in Somalia). “Today, the military is more focused on manipulating news and commentary on the Internet, especially social media, by posting material and images without necessarily claiming ownership,” reported the Post.