Here’s a Washington Post article about the Pentagon offering a $20 million public relations contract for a firm to collect and disseminate good news about the war in Iraq. Now I don’t know or care how you feel about the war in Iraq, but the very idea of the government using PR flaks to sell their policies really ought to piss you off. The entire public relations industry is dedicated to the premise that the truth simply does not matter, only what you can do or say that will cast your client in the best light, regardless of whether they deserve to be so cast, matters. In other words, they are in the business of generating propaganda.
Now I know that all politicians use PR people. That is, in the end, what Karl Rove, Dick Morris and all other campaign managers really are. But this administration has been particularly loathsome in this area, having government agencies produce fake news stories and distribute them to the media (and even more appalling, the media used those stories without telling anyone that they were government propaganda). The key to a healthy, functioning democracy is a well educated citizenry, but that premise presupposes that the information there are given is accurate – in other words, we must begin with the assumption that truth matters. Given that the whole point of PR is opposed to that, any use of PR firms by government agencies should be illegal.