Democrats rip Bush's fake news videos

March 15, 2004 at 7:29 AM

WASHINGTON, March 15 (UPI) -- Democrats are criticizing television ads in which people paid by the administration pose as reporters praising the benefits of the new U.S. Medicare law.

The new law is being touted as a way to help elderly U.S. citizens with prescription drug costs.

"These materials are even more disturbing than the Medicare flier and advertisements," Sen.Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., told the New York Times. "The distribution of these videos is a covert attempt to manipulate the press."

Lautenberg and eight other Democratic congressmen asked the General Accounting Office to investigate the videos.

Deputy General Counsel Gary L. Kepplinger said the GAO was "actively considering" such an investigation.

The Bush administration videos are intended for use in local television news programs. Several include pictures of Bush receiving a standing ovation from a crowd cheering as he signed the Medicare law Dec. 8.

The Department of Health and Human Services calls the ads video news releases. They were produced by Home Front Communications, which said it hired the "reporter" to read a script prepared by the government.

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