United States Lifts Ban On Domestic Propaganda, Here Is What You Need To Know

by
Fatimah Mazhar
United States is reportedly going to allow ‘domestic propaganda’ through lifting a ban that made it illegal for the Department of State to domestically share the “internally-authored” news stories sent to American-operated broadcasting outlets around the world.

U.S. Domestic Propaganda

United States is reportedly going to allow ‘domestic propaganda’ through lifting a ban that made it illegal for the Department of State to domestically share the “internally-authored” news stories sent to American-operated broadcasting outlets around the world.

In short, American people will now be able to receive news that is specially ‘tailored’ for foreign audiences. But why is this important? How does that matter? What can be the effects of the move?

We will briefly discuss the legislation and then analyze what the lifting of the ban would mean to the American people.

What was the law?

The long-standing federal law or the Smith–Mundt Act all these years has:

  • Specified the terms in which the U.S. Government can engage global audiences through U.S. media content, and
  • Ensured government-made media meant for foreign audiences doesn’t end up on domestic radio networks broadcast.

What changed?

Last year, Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced some changes in the legislation to help promote transparency. The amendments were incorporated and became effective on July 2 this year. The modernized version of the Smith–Mundt Act allows Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to let US households tune-in to hear the type of programming that was previously intended for global audiences only. BBG operates news outlets such as Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe, and several other networks.

Why Should The American People Care?

There is a huge debate going on as to why the Smith–Mundt Act was changed and why it was change “now” especially when the American people have the lowest level of trust in their government and its policies.

While the government factions insist that the amendments aim towards transparency and honest dissemination of information, critics maintain that this is a move to carry out Cold-War-like domestic propaganda.

  • Transparency:

According to U.S. government, if the content meant for foreign audience is received by the American people, they would be able to know what their State Department has been disseminating and working on all these years. Americans would get a chance to know what people all over the world think about them. They would also know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars.

  • Domestic Propaganda:

According to critics, this change in the legislation is a green-light, an official and legal excuse for the U.S. State Department to use propaganda on the American public and to distract its people from the information exposing the errors of the government. So it’s something the United States’ local audience should beware of, or not. It’s not 1947 anymore.

There is a considerable amount of people who think that the proposed ‘changes’ in the Smith–Mundt Act will make no difference since there is a lot of domestic propaganda going on already. Some are also comparing this move with Russian-style censorship of domestic media.

What do you think about the Modernized Smith–Mundt Act? Do you think it would make any difference at all? You can share your opinions in the comments section.

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