Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration has acknowledged making several videos masquerading as news stories to promote its agenda, creating an uproar from Democrats and labor leaders in a controversy parallel to one ignited by the Bush administration. Criticism initially focused on a video promoting labor regulations altering workers’ meal breaks. But the administration later said it made videos on Schwarzenegger’s efforts to reshape state government, stall rules that would increase nurse staffing at hospitals and alter teacher pay and tenure requirements, said aides to Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles.
Critics said the tailored-for-TV-news videos amount to taxpayer-funded campaign propaganda. Last year, the federal Government Accountability Office said the Bush administration violated a prohibition against using public money for propaganda when it created videos made to resemble news reports promoting Medicare changes. Deputy Legislative Counsel Cecilia Moddelmog told a Senate budget subcommittee Thursday that she doubted the Schwarzenegger administration had the authority to produce the videos. The videos included suggested opening remarks for a news anchor, a narrative by a state employee and interviews with supporters of the administration policies. It’s not evident to viewers who produced them and no opposition is expressed.