Pence’s Professional Pravda

Are you a Republican governor who’s thinking about a 2016 presidential run? Tired of “liberal news media” printing their “facts” instead of your truth about your administration? Want to turn your press release department into the actual press, only with taxpayer dollars and your direction?  Then you too can be like Indiana GOP Gov. Mike Pence and start your own news agency!

Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run news service that will provide pre-written news stories to Indiana news outlets, as well as sometimes compete with them for news about his administration, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star.

Pence is planning to launch “Just IN” in late February, a website and news service that will feature stories written by state press secretaries and is being overseen by a former Indianapolis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.

At times, Just IN will break news — publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such ‘exclusive’ coverage remain under discussion,” according to a question-and-answer sheet distributed to communications directors for state agencies last week details.

The Pence news service will take stories written by state communications directors and publish them on its website. Stories will “range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles.”

A Pence spokeswoman declined comment Monday, saying the administration would release more details soon.

Hey after all this is the party that swore to destroy the “dead tree” media.  Just put pajama guys in charge and “publish information ahead of any other news outlet” yourself!  No need for an adversarial press when you control the information and the means to get it to taxpayers, right?

But something something Obama’s chilling effect on the press, of course. Republicans like Pence are setting up the means to simply just go around them totally, but don’t let them know.

[UPDATE]  Seems Pence’s office is now scrambling to “clarify” what the Governor meant by “news agency” and is now walking this back as quickly as possible.

“Reports that this was intended to be a news agency, I think just represent an understandable misunderstanding based on some internal communications that I read about in the press,” Pence said, after his announcement that he had won an alternative expansion of Medicaid from the federal government.

Now that’s news, right?

59 replies
  1. 1
    japa21 says:

    There is a term for this sort of arrogance, but everything I can currently think of falls short.

  2. 2
    Derelict says:

    I’m old enough to remember when “state-run media” was something associated exclusively with totalitarian regimes. Nice to see America’s fascist wannabees adopting yet another page from the Orwellian playbook.

  3. 3
    Couldn't Stand the Weather says:

    Facts? We don’ need no stinkin’ facts!

    Another innovative idea from the party that Makes Shit Up.
    Pence News! New and improved, with no liberal bias! Fact free, fat free, and tested on animals!

  4. 4
    aimai says:

    Unless they are going to spice it up with topless women and cute cat stories I don’t see how they are going to get any attention from anyone–from any actual voter. Are people just hungering for in depth profiles of boring administrators and politicial figures? Are “”breaking” stories about government actions really of interest to ordinary people?

    Surely the function of this is simply to add a layer of versimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing tale. The governor and his cronies can point to stories which appear in this “news” service rather than issue actual responses to actual journalistic questions, they can point Fox News towards these press releases and use them as some kind of established fact (oid) so that they can circulate forever as assertions of fct rather than mere propaganda.

  5. 5
    KG says:

    @Derelict: current examples of state rum media include:

    “Iranian state run media”
    “Cuban state run media”
    “North Korean state run media”
    “Russian state run media”
    And now: “Indiana state run media”

    One of those is not like the other.

  6. 6
    PaulW says:

    what the hell happened with just a simple Public Relations office?

    does this violate state laws involving government transparency? does this interfere with existing state agencies’ rules about dissemination of information and access?

    there HAS to be a law or a rule or a guideline somewhere about conflict of interest, ethical behavior in the media, SOMETHING…

  7. 7
    PaulW says:

    @KG:

    I’ll say, the North Korean rag doesn’t have any Calvin and Hobbes.

  8. 8
    c u n d gulag says:

    Gov. Mike “The Dense” Pence – Hoosier Comrade.

  9. 9
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @japa21: I think the term is “vainglorious hubris”.

  10. 10
    Belafon says:

    Once again, which party resembles the Soviet Union more?

  11. 11
  12. 12
    SatanicPanic says:

    @aimai: maybe they can spice it up with topless Mike Pence photos. You know how the right loves photos of rugged topless men

  13. 13
    fuckwit says:

    @Derelict: Exactly. I thought this was an Onion thing. TASS is the last “state-run news service” I can remember hearing about. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....viet_Union

    Though in fairness, so much of the media nowadays runs pre-written stories copied and pasted directly from press releases from corporations and government. I’m thinking trade rags, and also local newspapers. I used to work for a local newspaper who would literally type up press releases word for word and that’d be the story. I know this because typing in the press releases into the Compugraphic typesetting machine and placing the galleys up to dry and then be pasted up into the paper, was my job. Nowadays you don’t even have to type them up, you can just cut and paste from an email.

  14. 14
    scav says:

    Brought to you by the fine upholders of Government shouldn’t be competing with Private Enterprise!

  15. 15
    scav says:

    @fuckwit: The difference is, of course, that the existing send to be copy and pasted system doesn’t attempt to control the other content present in the media source. Pence and Indiana are counting on people’s laziness and time-constrainte to minimize the readers exposure to other sources and opinions / context / etc. They want the whole gateway.

  16. 16
    Buddy H says:

    @fuckwit: Compugraphic! That’s a name I haven’t heard in many, many years.

    In the early ’80s I worked on a Compugraphic editwriter. If I needed to change fonts, I’d have to open it up like the hood of a car and replace the long font belt. We had different fonts hanging on the wall. Jesus, that brings back memories.

    I worked in two different typesetting companies. One of them was a small family business. Guy working next to me had a photo of a horse at his workstation; I guess it was a horse he liked. Boss (owner’s son) told him to take it down. No personal photos or items allowed on the workstations. And if you needed to make a phone call, you had to go up and stand next to the boss’s son. He’d dial for you and give you a dirty look for the duration of your conversation. My most cherished memory is around Thanksgiving. Management inflated some balloons and hung them on the wall. One of the balloon’s had a scrap of paper that said “free turkey” We all took turns throwing darts at the balloons. The boss’s son popped the free turkey balloon. So he got the free turkey.

    Good times!

  17. 17
    Elizabelle says:

    The Hoosier Snoozier.

    @aimai:

    Surely the function of this is simply to add a layer of versimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing tale.

    Yup. It’s why Republicans try to bat down critical thinking education.

    I hope voters are able to see through this. When I see how many folks here get taken in by The Onion and The Daily Currant … I haz a bad feeling about this.

    (In fairness, I think it’s harder to follow links on a smartphone; always do on the laptop because curious if the writer got it right or what the full original story was …)

  18. 18
    Keith G says:

    Christ. This is a story? I expected that all corporate-like structures did this.

    For years, I worked with a large urban school district that did this. They even ran a TV station on public access that had an every-afternoon, Today in _______ Schools program. This was the 1980s.

    Zzzzzzz.

  19. 19
    Elizabelle says:

    @Buddy H: Jeebus. That sounds like a screenplay of hell workplace. People would be laughing derisively throughout.

  20. 20
    Buddy H says:

    @Elizabelle: I googled them recently out of curiosity and they’re still in business after all these years. Making a whole new generation of workers miserable I suspect.

  21. 21
    Mike E says:

    @aimai:

    Surely the function of this is simply to add a layer of versimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing tale.

    Well, the Weekly World News always had two actual, factual stories per issue so this could be a winning strategy.

  22. 22
    Belafon says:

    @scav: But news isn’t exactly a private enterprise. It’s covered by the first amendment and therefore has rules that people like Pence want to get around.

  23. 23
    Scott S. says:

    @PaulW:

    what the hell happened with just a simple Public Relations office?

    The thing is, it is a public relations office. They’re calling it a news agency, but it’s just a PR office, like the state already has and which is already staffed. They’re just appointing a couple people to this “news agency,” giving them inflated salaries, and letting them put out press releases.

    It’s not like they have their own TV station or newspaper that’s going to contain nothing but Official Mike Pence News. They’re going to send out regular press releases, just like the regular, low-paid state PR office does. It looks to me strictly like a scheme to kickback some cash to a couple Pence cronies.

    Any legit newspaper or TV station that refers to any of Pence’s news releases as anything other than “Governor Mike Pence’s state-run propaganda office” should be laughed at as loudly as possible.

  24. 24
    DanF says:

    The truly crazy thing is that we don’t even have anything approaching a liberal MSM in Indiana.

  25. 25
    jonas says:

    Remember the squidclouds of butthurt from Villagers and conservative pundits last year when the White House announced it was limiting freelance photographers’ access to the president and would instead be releasing select images from their own WH photographers for news agencies to use? Further proof that Obama was using a rare edition of 1984 bound with Mein Kampf as a playbook for his presidency. I’m sure we can expect a similar level of outrage aimed at a Republican governor creating an entire state-run media agency to propagandize on his behalf.

    Right?

  26. 26
    scav says:

    @Belafon: I was more speaking to the perceptions and usual rhetoric then the legalities at that moment — Esp. as I would be as usually clueless anout the true legalities and exact constituionalities.

  27. 27
    chopper says:

    @aimai:

    indiana man discovers how to cut your grocery bill in half!

  28. 28
    Origuy says:

    @DanF: That was my reaction. Growing up in Indiana, we had the Indianapolis Star and the Bloomington Herald-Telephone (now the Herald-Times), plus the Indy and Terre Haute TV. None were particularly liberal. You had to read the university paper or the Louisville Courier-Journal for anything close to left-wing. The Star may not be owned by the Quayle family any longer, but its editorial stance hasn’t changed. The C-J is still on the center left, though.

  29. 29
    The Other Bob says:

    I used to write press releases for a legislator. It was a big victory when a reporter would take your release, paste it into the newspaper and add their own name. It happened more than once. Reporters be lazy.

  30. 30

    The difference between “Just IN” and Granma, the news outlet in Havana, Cuba, is that the latter has no problem labeling itself as the official voice of the political party in charge. Why so shy, Mike?

  31. 31
    jayboat says:

    @fuckwit:
    @Buddy H:

    The mid and late-80’s was a wonderful time in the publishing world. I was into large-scale production management consulting and bought several large Compugraphic and other systems for customers, employers and myself. In addition to a CG machine, I had a full size horizontal process camera set up in a spare bedroom of my apartment…

    In hindsight it is much easier now to see the cosmic changes that were happening then with the advent of desktop publishing and the shift from analog to digital. Much of the need was being driven by newspapers’ non-stop push to get copy into print. I remember the day when one of the German type foundries delivered the first font over the phone. Halcyon days.

  32. 32
    kc says:

    I don’t ever wanna hear another Republican refer to a Michael Moore movie as “propaganda” again.

  33. 33
    jayboat says:

    My further point to Buddy’s horror story was about the kind of control ‘some people’ were able to assert on a sizable portion of the workforce. The balance of power shifted in a major way in a very short period of time.

  34. 34
    Roy G. says:

    Funny coincidence, I pulled out my old copy of You Are Being Lied To last night, and one of the gems was that Punch Sulzberger got caught in the early 70s taking a CIA foreign affairs memo, putting his name on it and submitting it verbatim to the Times as his column for the week.

  35. 35
    Belafon says:

    @scav: I kind of was too, but obviously not doing a very good job. I was trying to imply that Pence is doing this because newspapers are allowed – though they might not do it too often – to check and correct statements made by anyone in the public sphere. He’s tired of being wrong and the way to fix that is to obviously not allow anyone to check if you’re wrong.

  36. 36
    hoodie says:

    @Scott S.: Yeah, I see more stupid than evil here. I hope the population of Indiana isn’t dumb enough to let them get away with operating it as a fake news site that doesn’t identify its source as the state gov. So it’s probably just another state website with a bit different packaging and content, and a dubious use of taxpayer money. On the bright side, it may make it more obvious that stories in the local news outlets are just reprints of state press releases.

  37. 37
    beejeez says:

    Minority voice here. In a democracy, there’s no good reason that a state-run news agency can’t be a reliable source of news. Why shouldn’t a publication that is indirectly accountable to all of Indiana’s voters be more dependable than a news agency accountable only to its owners? Sure, there’s no guarantee Indiana’s state news agency won’t turn into a propaganda organ. But if all you’ve got in Indiana (or anywhere) are privately run propaganda organs now, what’s the difference?

    I’d just note that Pence might want to be careful what he asks for. Someday it may be a Democratic governor calling the shots for the fully operational state news agency. Now that will be something to watch.

  38. 38
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KG: North Korea’s?

  39. 39
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @PaulW: I knew there was something missing.

  40. 40
    scav says:

    @beejeez: It is rather the hypocrisy that garners the mocking attention — plus a little devoted to the grandstanding about could possibly just be more of the same cut-and-paste PR-flackwork with a little element of Office Newsletter starbursts.

    I mean, the Government can’t do anything right! crowd, the shrinky govt to bathtub drowny crowd, the Govt is altering stats to hide the Benghazi-Economy-Fast-and-Furious-Muslim-Immigration-takeover! crowd is technically allied to this (it’s one of theirs making the play). Still, they’re not likely to read it, not the hard-core believers. The low-information lazy majority of the state is more likely to be the intended audience and they’re the ones to sway in an election if they can be encouraged to get off their duffs and mark the little boxes legibly.

    In a perfect would, a govt news source/bureau/whatever could work without ill effect but statistically and practically speaking, there’s a lot more under the hood that needs to be built, legislated, verified and demonstrated in practice.

  41. 41
    Tommy says:

    @beejeez: I have a MA in Journalism. I never practiced said trade for a living but I sure planned to. I feel like I can talk about this topic more than almost any other. This is an affront to all that is journalism. There is no level where this isn’t wrong.

  42. 42
    jl says:

    Just IN is the name? I like it. I suspect a few soon-to-be disappointed fans will click in looking for the latest Bieber news.
    Pence does have some things in common with Bieber, but I don’t think it will be close enough.

  43. 43
    Spinwheel says:

    Pence giving press releases to people causes Zandar to be angry.

    Jeffrey Sterling is convicted by Obama for telling America the truth, not so much anger.

  44. 44
    Uncle Cholmondeley says:

    The Google machine tells me that plenty of other people have come up with the name Pravda on the Wabash for this little project besides me.

    But I still like the name and think we should call it that every chance we get.

  45. 45
    Felixmoronia says:

    @Uncle Cholmondeley:

    and that brings us to the old Soviet era joke: There is no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia.

  46. 46
    JCJ says:

    @Uncle Cholmondeley:

    Pravda on the Wabash

    Not to be too picky, but the Wabash does not flow through Indianapolis. Pravda on the White River doesn’t have the same ring, though. Maybe Pravda on Eagle Creek? Pravda on the Geist Reservoir?

  47. 47
    Ben Cisco says:

    That’s “Would-be Preznitial contender” Mike Pence.

    At this rate, it won’t be a clown car but rather a double-decker couch bus.

  48. 48
    Liberty60 says:

    State run media?
    I dunno, can’t we just let the marketplace handle it?

  49. 49
    Derelict says:

    @fuckwit: Compugraphics! The big blue beasts!

    The first magazine I worked at back in the 1980s, we had CG machines. About a month after I got there, we also got the original 128K Macintosh computers. My boss and I wrote the hexadecimal translator code that let the Macs talk directly to the Compugraphics. Made life sooooo much easier! (I was an investigative reporter at that magazine, so no copy-paste or press-release journalism for us!)

  50. 50
    Cervantes says:

    @Roy G.:

    That was Cy, not Punch, Sulzberger. And yes, the NYT has always been an “asset.” Judy Miller was neither first nor last.

  51. 51
    Mike in NC says:

    Mike Dense is climbing into the Klown Kar? Wheeeee!

  52. 52
    MCA1 says:

    @Liberty60: That’s just the rub. If only there were a proper balance to this sort of expansive PR operation, which is all this really is. It’s smart on Pence’s account, actually. He’s just exploiting a vacuum left by the free market. The problem is that a large part of our Failed Media environment is the simple fact that there aren’t any local and state level beat reporters on staff at most media outlets anymore. The market has spoken, and it’s said that we’re just bored to death by news about the workings of our municipal and state governments, and we’re OK with newspapers being spoonfed their articles by the governor’s flacks. They can just point to every local government’s or state legislative body’s website and the “news” menu, and say they’re just doing the same thing in getting word out about important developments that their constituents should know about, because they held a press conference on this last week and no one showed up.

  53. 53
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Uncle Cholmondeley: That was one I was thinking of, but how about the Hoosier Beobachter as an alternate name?

  54. 54
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JCJ: Yes, but the song mentions the moonlight on the Wabash.

  55. 55
    Shalimar says:

    Every government agency I ever worked for had at least 2 people in their press ass-kissing department. The only real innovation I noticed with this one is that these two PR people apparently know how to make their own YouTube videos.

  56. 56
    danielx says:

    @JCJ:

    I sorta like Pravda on Pogue’s Run myself, but seriously – why not just call it Fox News Indiana Edition and be done with it?

  57. 57
    Yatsuno says:

    @Spinwheel: GRR!!! ZANDAR POST! MUST SMASH!!!

    Seriously, can we get a troll upgrade around here?

  58. 58
    Woodrowfan says:

    I went to college with Pence. He always was a good little fascist,.

  59. 59
    Shalimar says:

    Ok, having watched TRMS, I don’t understand this at all. Bill McCleery and his assistant, with copy written by all the different state press secretaries, does not seem even remotely close to the size staff you would need to run an actual news service. McCleery has worked for a newspaper, you would think he realizes this even if the governor doesn’t. There must be more staff than the two people I saw named earlier.

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