[HT to Digby]

CNN ran a piece yesterday on the US Fire Administration’s Emergency Education Network [EENET], which operates under the branch of DHS & FEMA. They produce a channel, the ‘Recovery Channel,’ which is beamed into FEMA-run Disaster Recovery Centers.

From their website: the Recovery Channel “is updated every day to assure the latest and best information is available without interpretation or spin directly from those working “on the ground” to serve disaster victims. The content is a mix of practical on-camera reports, pre-taped interviews, and produced segments and text. The Recovery Channel’s sole objective is to deliver the correct information to disaster victims so that they can make good decisions for themselves and their families.”

Well, not so much on that spin part. Why after the flip.
Here’s the transcript from the CNN broadcast:

PHILLIPS: Must see TV, it’s not. Chances are you’ve never heard of it, but Recovery TV is spreading the word about this year’s devastating hurricanes and the federal government’s response. And whether you think it warrants cheers or jeers, you’re paying the bills.

Here’s CNN’s Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Far from the cleanup, the debris and the angry public meetings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need some answers.

FOREMAN: Seventy miles from Washington in the Maryland countryside, it’s show time for FEMA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In times of crisis, the best help is often just a source of reliable information.

FOREMAN: This is the “Recovery Channel,” produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and airing around the clock via satellite and the Internet.

DIANNA GEE, RECOVERY CHANNEL ANCHOR: It could be the best day and the worst day. The day you finally get to go back to your storm- damaged home.

FOREMAN: FEMA conceived the channel years ago to spread important information after disasters. Following Katrina, it was on in shelters, a plain display about rebuilding, financial aid, help and more. But now, with FEMA accusing the mainstream media of failing to provide enough of that info, the “Recovery Channel” has undergone a makeover.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay with us. Together, we can build a bright future.

FOREMAN: And at the Annenberg School of Communication, Professor Joe Turow says it’s turned into propaganda.

JOE TUROW, ANNENBERG SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION: Most of the information was really not the specific kind of factual information one might think, but rather feature and fluff pieces that seemed designed to aggrandize FEMA, and actually the Bush administration, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to thank FEMA for all they’ve done for us.

FOREMAN: Certainly, the channel conveys no public frustration with FEMA. When the channel was airing this,

JAMILAH FRASER, RECOVERY CHANNEL ANCHOR: The massive effort to clean up Louisiana is still topping our coverage. And to speed up this process, our commander in chief steps in with some additional assistance.

FOREMAN: CNN was airing this: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What’s wrong with you, Uncle Sam? You drunk? Huh? What you doing with our tax money? Come on, you need to go to rehab, brother.

FOREMAN: Consider this “Focus On Education” report.

FRASER: But one New Orleans school refused to let the doors of education close on them. They just rolled in the wheels of knowledge.

FOREMAN: This segment, this week was about FEMA bringing trailers to a school where a tree destroyed several classrooms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all of us without FEMA would not be able to be standing here today.

FOREMAN: But this school is not in New Orleans. It’s two hours north and there was no information about more than 100 devastated schools actually in the city, where by the way, almost 8,000 school employees have just been told they’ve officially lost their jobs.

FRASER: Good information for good decisions.

FOREMAN: Another concern. The FEMA logo appears often, but much of the language on the channel suggests it is independent of the very government agency that is running it.

FRASER: Today our lead story is FEMA’s top priority: Housing. A two-week extension for those evacuees in hotels. That’s what FEMA is saying today.

FOREMAN: Critics on Capitol Hill have repeatedly suggested the administration is misusing public funds for domestic propaganda. Senator Frank Lautenberg is one of them and he watched the channel at our request.

SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D), NEW JERSEY: The way this is being done, it’s a fakery. And it shouldn’t — it should be identified as a government product.

FOREMAN: When we contacted FEMA, a spokesperson defended the channel, but after reviewing the questions CNN raised, sent this statement: The agency, it says, is taking immediate measures to ensure that all programming is unmistakably labeled as an official FEMA resource. And it’s eliminating any editorial content.

Armstrong Williams, the US military planting stories in Iraq, faked news reports made to look independent — it’s a systematic tool and an increasingly oft-used device in today’s information wars.

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