Obama edits official State Department documents to tout himself
The Heritage Foundation’s Amy Payne posts,
The State Department has recently ended its long-running series of Background Notes, which were analytical, objective histories of other countries. In their place, new “Fact Sheets” now tout Obama’s policies and actions toward each nation. No more historical context, no recounting of complex and long-standing issues in the country. Just cut to the chase—that is, the time when the current Administration came to power.
Heritage’s Jim Roberts, one of the editors of Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom, was struck by the disproportionate change in emphasis while doing some research recently. Roberts, who worked at the State Department from 1982 to 2007 and used to write these country profiles, said he had never seen edits like these under either previous Republican or Democratic Administrations.
Roberts noted that “They seem to be not ‘fact sheets’ but brag sheets,” adding that the edits appear to treat countries more favorably when the Obama Administration agrees with their leaders.
Compare the nearly 1,200-word “Fact Sheet” published this week by the U.S. embassy in Brazil with the last Background Note on Brazil written during the George W. Bush Administration.
The 4,100-word Bush document, chock full of facts and figures helpful in analyzing the country and its importance to the U.S., never once mentions the name of any U.S. President. The 300-word section on U.S.–Brazil relations takes up about 7 percent of the document.
Conversely, fully 70 percent (830 words) of the Brazil Fact Sheet, which is focused exclusively on U.S. relations with Brazil, discusses President Obama either directly by name (twice!) or in the context of the plethora of programs his Administration has launched with Brazil, including a shared “commitment to combat discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) status; to advance gender equality; a bilateral instrument that targets racism; support for HIV/AIDS prevention, promotion of clean energy technologies in Brazil, and mitigation of climate change.”