United Nations:

Analysis of Selected Media Products Shows Half Oppose Key U.S. Interests

NSIAD-86-98: Published: Apr 18, 1986. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO analyzed United Nations (UN) Department of Public Information (DPI) materials to determine whether they: (1) supported or opposed political positions taken by the United States; and (2) fairly and objectively discussed the United States and its policies on apartheid disarmament, new world information and communication structures, and Palestine.

GAO found that, for 79 of the media items analyzed, 38 items were neutral, 40 were opposed to, and 1 was supportive of U.S. interests. GAO also found that: (1) greater proportions of items on apartheid and Palestine were opposed to U.S. policies and/or interests than were items on the other topics; (2) a greater proportion of radio broadcasts opposed U.S. interests than did the other media types; and (3) Soviet bloc and non-aligned country spokesmen, UN General Assembly resolutions and conferences, and DPI were the sources of material which frequently opposed U.S. interests. GAO found that: (1) about 16 percent of the items analyzed presented only one side of political issues and presented no arguments supporting the U.S. position; (2) in material related to U.S. interests, 44 percent of the statements attributed to DPI spokesmen opposed, while only 3 percent supported U.S. interests; (3) at least 2.5 percent of all statements contained biased language, most of which was directed against U.S. interests; and (4) although DPI can better control the content of its radio broadcasts than other media types, these programs were the most unfavorable toward U.S. interests by almost every index used.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State established a review process for selected UN media products. An accomplishment report related to reduced U.S. funding for UN public information will be prepared pending final passage of a State appropriation bill.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should develop a review process to better monitor selected UN public information materials.

    Agency Affected: Department of State


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