(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) likely violated long-standing restrictions on propaganda by pre-approving a script that was read verbatim on the morning show Fox & Friends. In advance of an interview with then-Administrator Pruitt, EPA staff coordinated with Fox News producers on talking points and even approved the precise script for the lead-in. This undisclosed coordination left viewers in the dark on the Agency’s involvement in creating content for the scandal-plagued Administrator’s choreographed interview.
Federal law prevents the use of agency resources for publicity or propaganda, unless authorized by Congress. It appears that EPA officials likely engaged in unlawful “covert propaganda” – where the agency’s involvement in the creation of content is hidden from the audience. If members of the public don’t know their government is speaking to them, they cannot appropriately assess the quality of the information they receive, undermining public confidence in the news media and the quality of public discourse on issues of national importance.
We and Restore Public Trust have requested an investigation by the EPA’s Inspector General into potential legal violations and are seeking documents from the EPA through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. We have asked the Inspector General to investigate the extent of the EPA’s role in content creation for the April 2017 Fox & Friends interview and their involvement in the creation of other Fox News segments relating to the work of then-Administrator Pruitt and the Agency.
We look forward to a response from the Inspector General and to receiving documents from the agency.