BBG Watch Commentary

Several current and former U.S. international broadcasting employees contributed to this BBG Watch article.

Susan McCue
Susan McCue

What will be a major loss for transparency, accountability and good governance within U.S. international broadcasting, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) member and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Board Chair Susan McCue has been nominated by President Obama to join the Board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a federal entity which deals with global poverty issues.

The good news is that during the confirmation procees Susan McCue will continue her public service at the BBG, according to an announcement from the BBG Chairman Jeff Shell.

BBG Watch congratulates Susan McCue on her new nomination, but together with many BBG employees, former employees and other supporters of U.S. international broadcasting, we will be sorry to see her leave her BBG and RFE/RL positions.

Susan McCue has distinguished herself in defending the public media mission of U.S. international broadcasting and its focus on the most information-deprived audiences. She has been a strong defender of BBG journalists and their independence. She has argued for more resources for BBG reporters and often confronted International Broadcasting Bureau executives on management issues. She promoted technological innovation and greater audience engagement.

Together with former BBG member Victor Ashe, BBG Governor Michael Meehan, and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine, Susan McCue worked hard to resolve a recent management crisis at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty over the unjust firing of Radio Liberty human rights reporters in Russia and helped to recruit Kevin Klose to lead RFE/RL.

McCue, Meehan, Klose with Alexeeva, Gorelik and Fistein
(Photo – from left to right) Radio Liberty human rights reporter Kristina Gorelik, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) member and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Board of Directors Chairwoman Susan McCue, Radio Liberty Senior Adviser Jefim Fistein, human rights defender Lyudmila Alexeeva, BBG member and RFE/RL Board member Michael Meehan, RFE/RL Acting President and CEO President Kevin Klose.

The eventual departure of Susan McCue from the BBG will be a big loss for the agency that continues to suffer from mismanagement by the IBB executive staff.

Susan McCue has tried to address this monumental problem through various legislative proposals and internal reforms, but together with other reform-minded BBG members encountered strong resistance from the entrenched bureaucracy and its top executives.

Reforms were made more difficult by the recent lack of quorum on the BBG Board and the recent departure of Victor Ashe, another BBG member who distinguished himself with his willingness to confront the IBB bureaucracy on management and transparency issues.

We hope that the new BBG Chairman Jeff Shell and other new BBG members will have enough determination to continue the reforms which are desperately needed to save U.S. international broadcasting, particularly at the Voice of America (VOA).

Most of the problems, for which the BBG Board is often blamed in the media and by public figures such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who herself was an ex officio BBG member, can be traced to the permanent IBB executive staff that has not changed in many years despite record low employee morale, as measured by the OPM, and many embarrassing scandals, some affecting U.S. public diplomacy and America’s image aboard.

We hope that during her remaing time on the BBG Board, Susan McCue will continue her fight for good governance and decent treatment of BBG journalists, other employees and contractors.

BBG Watch wants to thank her for what she has done at the BBG and RFE/RL and wish her good luck!


The following Announcement was sent out by BBG Chairman Jeff Shell:

The President has nominated Governor Susan McCue to join the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, whose mission aligns with her long-standing work on global poverty issues.  During the confirmation process, Susan will remain with the BBG.  The Board is grateful to continue to benefit from her experience during this time, and we offer our warmest congratulations on the honor of her new nomination to serve our country.
Jeff Shell, Chairman
Broadcasting Board of Governors
From the White House announcement:
Susan McCue, Nominee for Member, Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation
Susan McCue is President of Message Global, a strategic advocacy firm she founded in 2008.  In 2006, she became the founding President and CEO of the ONE Campaign.  From 1999 to 2007, Ms. McCue served as the Chief of Staff for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Previously, from 1997 to 1998, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  From 1992 to 1997, she was Senator Reid’s Communications Director.  Ms. McCue was Press Secretary for Senator Tom Harkin’s 1996 Senate campaign.  She began her career as a research assistant for reporters at the National Journal and The New York Times.  Ms. McCue is also a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and is the Vice Chair of Humanity United.  She received a B.A. from Rutgers University.

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