Schwarzenegger Administration Acknowledges Producing Videos Addressing Nurse Staffing Rules, Prescription Drug Costs
The administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Wednesday said that it had produced several "mock news videos" to promote its policies, including videos addressing the state's nurse-to-patient ratio rules and Schwarzenegger's proposal to reduce prescription drugs costs, the Los Angeles Times reports. Other videos address lunch breaks for hourly wage workers and performance-based compensation for teachers.
The videos "follow a format" and include "suggested opening lines to be read by television news anchors," according to the Times. The videos are narrated by a state employee, who previously worked as a reporter for a Sacramento television station, and include interviews with supporters of the governor's proposals.
The Times reports that the videos "do not acknowledge dissenting views or offer balance as required in news accounts."
In the nurse staffing video, Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Kim Belshe calls the criticism of Schwarzenegger's proposal to delay implementation of nurse-to-patient ratio rules "scare tactics" and says that such a decision would not affect patient safety.
The tapes were formatted as television news stories and sent to stations throughout California in December 2004. According to the Times, it is "unclear" whether state officials monitored television stations' use of the nurse video.
Some Democratic legislators say that the use of state funds to produce the videos is inappropriate, saying that the videos are "propaganda."
Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) said, "This truly is a blending of all the lines: it's propaganda; it's campaigns. It is all meshed into one." Romero on Thursday is scheduled to hold a hearing addressing the videos. At the hearing, she is expected to question officials from the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, which produced one of the tapes.
Schwarzenegger aides said the videos were news releases and dismiss claims that the administration produced promotional or campaign material with taxpayer money.
Rick Rice, undersecretary of LWDA, said, "It's information we are required to provide to the public," adding, "We can do it by any means we choose -- video, print, audio" (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 3/10).