H.R. 4490 would provide adult supervision for BBG and Voice of America, Heritage scholar says

BBG Watch Commentary

The National InterestMike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and the author of the book “A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans,” has written an article in The National Interest, “Can America Still Win the Information War?”

The United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014, or H.R. 4490, won’t fix the Obama Administration’s ideological biases, but it would do much good.

Among its many positive aspects, H.R. 4490 would provide adult supervision for the $700 million broadcast group, replacing the BBG with a “United States International Communications Agency,” and establishing within the agency a Board of Directors and a Chief Executive Officer.

Gonzalez’s support for the bipartisan reform legislation — he calls it “that rarest of things: a bipartisan bill, introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Ranking Member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., not exactly ideological birds of a feather” — is opposed by some but not most Voice of America staffers, particularly the senior management and some senior VOA English correspondents, on the grounds that the bill would undermine VOA’s journalistic credibility. Rep. Engel and Rep. Royce denied that Congress wants to interfere with VOA news or turn VOA into a propaganda machine.

While the AFGE Local 1812 Voice of America and BBG employee union supports the H.R. 4490 reform bill with only some minor reservations, “SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT,” VOA senior correspondent Al Pessin, writing on his own behalf, stated his opposition to the bill in an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, “Op-Ed Back off, Congress, and keep Voice of America real.”

Gonzalez noted that “often times, VOA staff have sought to define their mission not as purveyors of American values and explainers of policy overseas, but as straight up journalists who must criticize both.” The bipartisan BBG reform bill, passed unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the whole House of Representatives in a voice vote, now awaits further action in the Senate.

READ MORE: Can America Still Win the Information War?

By Michael Gonzalez, THE BUZZ, The National Interest, September 15, 2014.

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