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Capitol Health Call
February 9, 2005

Drug Abuse “Propaganda”

JAMA. 2005;293(6):668. doi:10.1001/jama.293.6.668-c

News videos produced by the Bush Administration’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) violated certain federal laws, said the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on January 6. The videos highlighted the damaging effects of drug use by youth and were broadcast by almost 300 television stations reaching an estimated 22 million households, said the GAO, an investigational arm of Congress.

While the ONDCP is authorized by the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 to engage in “news media outreach,” the office is also required to comply with certain laws that prohibit publicity or propaganda not authorized by Congress, the GAO said. The GAO did not criticize the content of the stories but said the videos “constitute covert propaganda” because the drug control policy office failed to disclose to the television viewing audience its role in the production and distribution of these news stories.