"The White House is defending its practice of distributing government-funded video news releases to TV stations with the hopes that the stations will air the segments as real news.
On Sunday the NYT featured an extensive front-page investigation detailing the extent that pre-packaged news releases, produced by the federal government, are being used by television stations across the country. The Times reported at least 20 federal agencies, including the Pentagon and Census Bureau, have distributed hundreds of TV-news segments in the past four years. Many were then broadcast on local stations without crediting the government as the source of the information.
On Monday White House Press Secretary Scott McLelan claimed the videos are appropriate as long as they're factual. Last month the General Accounting Office, however, ruled that the videos violate laws that ban covert propaganda. But the Bush administration is ordering all agencies to disregard the GAO's directive."