The line between government communication and propaganda.
(This piece by Kevin Kosar and John Maxwell Hamilton originally appeared in Politico.)
Three hundred million dollars — that’s how much the Trump Administration intends to spend on an ad campaign to buck up a country that is beleaguered by one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world. The media blitz planned by the Department of Health and Human Services will reportedly feature inspirational videos from administration officials and celebrities, including actor Dennis Quaid and singer CeCe Winans.
Three hundred million dollars is a lot of money, and it is dubious that an advertising campaign even of that magnitude can cheer up Americans who have lost their businesses or jobs, are struggling to arrange schooling for their children, and working to keep their marriages together and stay healthy. Also troubling is the timing of the “defeat despair” campaign, beginning shortly before the election, which adds an unsavory and self-serving taint to the enterprise. Congressional Democrats are also vexed that this money, which they appropriated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is being redirected in part to a crony of controversial HHS spokesman Michael Caputo.
But the waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars is not the only reason for outrage. It’s that there’s a better label for this type of ad campaign, one that aims to stir positive emotions in contravention of the facts. It’s called propaganda, and it’s a form of communication that many Americans have trouble recognizing.
Read the full piece, “Call It What It Is: Propaganda” in Politico.