BBG Watch Commentary
Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce (R-CA) has called for new CEO for the scandal-ridden Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) agency in charge of the Voice of America (VOA) and other U.S. international media outreach entities, including Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
Royce, a longtime critic of the agency, did not fall for the latest attempt by so-called “BBG management whistleblowers” who claimed that one of former BBG Democratic chairman Jeff Shell’s most trusted BBG managers André Mendes was the White House’s choice to replace Shell’s hire John F. Lansing as BBG CEO. The management “whistleblowers” did not tell members of Congress and media that Mendes was appointed by Shell to run the agency on an interim basis at various times and received effusive praise from President Obama’s nominee. While Mendes apparently wanted to become CEO, the story of a conspiracy with the White House, as spread by BBG management “whistleblowers,” was entirely fake.
The White House quickly denied involvement in any such plan. Michael Pack is still believed to be awaiting clearance for his official nomination as BBG CEO to be presented to the U.S. Senate. According to our sources, most high-level White House staffers they talked to recently about the agency have never heard of André Mendes and those who have heard his name had no idea of any White House plans involving him and the BBG.
Royce said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon that he:
ED ROYCE: “‘looks forward’ to the next step in reforming the embattled agency whose flagship, the Voice of America, has come under criticism for drifting from its mission of countering anti-American narratives promulgated by Russia and other adversaries as well as mimicking mainstream cable outlets’ anti-Trump bias.”
READ MORE: Royce Urges Trump to Initiate BBG, VOA Reforms by Naming New Director, Susan Crabtree, The Washington Free Beacon, March 21, 2018.
BBG Watch reported that Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Royce’s partner and Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee got played by BBG bureaucrats, as did CNN.
SEE: CNN, Rep. Engel got played by ‘BBG whistleblowers’, BBG Watch, March 21, 2018.
A high-level Washington source familiar with the House Foreign Affairs Committee commented further on Rep. Royce’s statement to the Washington Free Beacon.
“Seems to me that any organization forced to put down revolts from within is in a leadership crisis. The Mendes debacle illustrates that the dysfunction that has plagued this agency has not receded under Lansing and Bennett [VOA director Amanda Bennett].
The administration needs to nominate – and the Senate confirm – someone to run the agency asap.
Those inside the BBG attempting to protect the bureaucratic empire they’ve built are using the rally cry of ‘Trump TV’ to fearmonger and stymie reform. Congress should demand implementation of section 1288 of the 2017 NDAA immediately.”
The threat of partisanship and bias at the Voice of America seems to be coming not from the Trump White House but from the current BBG and VOA leadership and some VOA reporters and editors, as seen in this 2016 VOA video with VOA logo and foreign subtitles, in which Donald Trump was called by a Hollywood actor “punk,” “dog,” “pig,” “con,” “buls**t artist,” “mutt,” “idiot,” “fool,” “bozo,” and “blatantly stupid,” without any context, balance or response. The video was subsequently removed, but other biased, partisan and even obscene posts by some VOA reporters remain online.
SEE: Voice of America director informed in June 2016 about obscene Facebook posts by VOA reporters, BBG Watch, November 20, 2017.