An important article in Foreign Affairs on Russia’s propaganda and disinformation against the West, “How to Stand Up to the Kremlin: Defending Democracy Against Its Enemies,” co-written by former Vice President Joe Biden and Michael Carpenter, Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center who served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense from 2015 to 2017, fails to mention any role in exposing and countering the Kremlin’s anti-U.S., anti-EU and anti-NATO narrative with any kind of help from U.S. taxpayer-funded Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA). RFE/RL and VOA are not even mentioned once in the Biden-Carpenter article.
READ MORE: How to Stand Up to the Kremlin: Defending Democracy Against Its Enemies. By Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and Michael Carpenter. Foreign Affairs, December 5, 2017.
Both RFE/RL and VOA have been grossly mismanaged for close to two decades by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency with a $740 million budget (FY 2017). Biden and Carpenter also do not mention the BBG in their Foreign Affairs article.
Such an omission would have been unthinkable during the Cold War when RFE, RL and VOA played a critical role in the information war with the Soviet Union. But as Hillary Clinton, the then Secretary of State and herself a member of the BBG Board, observed in her congressional testimony in 2013, the Broadcasting Board of Governors has become “practically defunct.”
“Our Broadcasting Board of Governors is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world. So we’re abdicating the ideological arena, and we need to get back into it,” Clinton said.
Ted Lipien, one of our co-founders and supporters who was former VOA acting associate director, commented on Biden’s article. Ted Lipien is a co-director of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org), an independent and non-partisan NGO which has been warning about conflicts of interest among some BBG and VOA officials, their business ties to Russia and China, extreme partisanship in some of the VOA reporting, and dismally low employee morale among BBG journalists and other employees under the current management team. In addition to the firings by RFE/RL management of key Radio Liberty investigative reporters, the BBG/VOA management is also trying to fire three VOA Mandarin Service journalists and punish others who in April 2017 had disagreed with the senior executives’ decision to shorten a live interview with Chinese whistleblower businessman Guo Wengui.
TED LIPIEN: “Most striking to me about this important Foreign Affairs article by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and Michael Carpenter on Russia’s propaganda is its complete silence on any role of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA) in countering Russian disinformation. Biden used to be a big supporter of RFE/RL, but it seems that like almost everybody else in Washington, he came to the same conclusion as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which is in charge of RFE/RL and VOA, has become “practically defunct” when it comes to exposing and challenging Putin’s propaganda. Both RFE/RL and VOA have become so mismanaged under the BBG that they regularly post reports online that repeat and amplify the Kremlin’s propaganda narrative. RFE/RL had fired some of its best investigative reporters and commentators who were trying to expose the corrupt nature of the Putin regime and its agents of influence abroad. Their key executives believe that requiring Russia’s RT to register in the U.S. as a foreign agent was a bad idea. Some of the past and present BBG and VOA officials have substantial corporate or family business interests in countries such as Russia and China. The BBG has the lowest employee morale among federal agencies. Unfortunately, Biden bears some responsibility for the creation of the BBG in 1999. The reform of the agency should be the top priority if the U.S. wants to stand up to the Kremlin in the information sphere. Otherwise, close to one billion dollars ($740 million in FY 2017) the BBG gets each year from U.S. taxpayers is going to waste.”