Fake News Flash: Global Warming Is a Myth!

 At least that’s what residents of hurricane-ravaged Mississippi were told when a local newscaster aired a fake news segment earlier this year. One problem: Viewers weren’t told that the segment was bought and paid for by ExxonMobil lobbyists.

Hot Air from WTOK-11

Big Oil created this VNR for WTOK-11 viewers in hurricane-ravaged Mississippi. Don’t blame global warming, it claims. It’s simply “the way nature sometimes works.”

View this clip and others

Read the full report

Take action

The problem doesn’t end in Mississippi. Free Press and the Center for Media and Democracy today released a second groundbreaking report that exposes more corporations placing propaganda as news on television stations across the country — including stations reaching people in New York.

This deception is illegal under federal rules and must be stopped.

Tell the FCC to Crack Down on Fake News

All told, this investigation has snared more than 100 local stations slipping corporate-sponsored “video news releases” — promotional segments designed to look like objective news reports — into their regular news programming.

The evidence suggests that this abuse is more widespread, involving stations in every state (For more visit our Fake News Map). The advertisements, flogging everything from arguments against global warming to porn-free search engines, are passed off to you, their viewers, as legitimate news reports.

In April 2006, after we first exposed this practice, broadcasters pledged that they would come clean and stop infiltrating the airwaves with fake news. In August, the FCC launched an inquiry into all 77 stations that were cited in the first investigation. But the FCC investigation has gone nowhere.

Today’s follow-up report captures an additional 46 stations airing corporate propaganda — showing that these abuses continue unabated, despite the ongoing FCC inquiry. It’s time the FCC stepped up its efforts. We need to send 100,000 letters to the FCC so they can’t ignore us:

Tell the FCC to Stop Fake News Today

Free Press and CMD have delivered extensive evidence of this local TV abuse to the FCC. But these two investigations — documenting less than 1 percent of fake news being offered to newsrooms — exposed only the tip of the iceberg. It’s likely that fake news reports have been aired on hundreds more local newscasts.

We need your help to send a strong message to the FCC: Crack down on local news stations that abuse the public trust by airing fake news.


Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press

1. The latest report — “Still Not the News” — is available at www.prwatch.org/fakenews2/execsummary.

2. Learn more about taking action against fake news stations near you at www.freepress.net/fakenews.

3. The evidence suggests a strong tie between media consolidation and the tendency to abuse the airwaves with deceptive, pre-packaged propaganda. More than 80 percent of the stations snared in the inquiry are owned by large conglomerates. A list of the worst offenders reads like a who’s who of Big Media, including stations owned by Sinclair, Fox Television, Tribune Company and Clear Channel. For more information on the effects of media consolidation visit www.stopbigmedia.com.

One Response

  1. Sigh, some of us old folks remember the day when Freedom of the Press was more than just a catch phrase. This is just another example of why I say the entire US is rapidly turning into one giant “company town.”

    JMO Doug

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