A California water agency has dragged Google News into a scandal over a serious case of astroturfing.

The Central Basin Municipal Water District, in Los Angeles County, has been called out for writing fake news stories promoting itself, disguised in a website called the Hawks News Review. Google News had approved the faux-news site as a legitimate source.

The Los Angeles Times covered this story, asserting that the Water District paid more than $200,00o to a public relations firm for planting the positive coverage.

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