BBG Watch Commentary
Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Board member Susan McCue’s resignation letter to President Obama is largely a tribute to journalists who work for various BBG news entities: the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí).
While serving on the BBG Board, McCue was a strong champion of journalists and other staffers who prepare and help to support news programs directed largely to countries without free media.
According to BBG Watch sources, while serving on the Board McCue became increasingly disenchanted with the central BBG bureaucracy in Washington. At one point, she reportedly confronted a key International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executive why he and his boss were allowing a management crisis at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) damage the organization’s journalistic reputation and America’s image in Russia. Having reportedly received a response from the executive that taking action might be bad for his government career, she initiated management reforms at RFE/RL on her own with the help of other BBG members, sources told BBG Watch. She also pushed for legislative changes to reform IBB and appoint an agency CEO, a process that is still pending in Congress. She was later selected chair of RFE/RL’s corporate board.
McCue is held in especially high esteem by RFE/RL employees and Russian human rights activists for helping some of the unjustly fired Radio Liberty journalists in Russia get their jobs back.
Thanks to her efforts, management reforms at RFE/RL were implemented, RFE/RL programs and their online and social media reach improved, and many of the journalists were rehired shortly before President Putin intensified his media propaganda campaign and annexed Crimea.
According to sources, even a few days before her resignation, McCue was working to help a journalist at RFE/RL in an effort to return her to work. The journalist, who was badly treated by the previous management team, received a new position, sources told BBG Watch.
McCue is widely applauded and admired by BBG employees. Her departure from the Broadcasting Board of Governors is viewed by many as a big loss.
BBG Press Release
MAY 23, 2014
WASHINGTON – BBG Board member Susan McCue has informed the White House and her colleagues that she is leaving the Broadcasting Board of Governors, effective immediately, as she begins her service on the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
“I want to recognize the talented and courageous journalists, editors, producers, engineers, technicians and others in the great global BBG family who work tirelessly and in the face of enormous challenges to deliver objective news and information where it may not otherwise exist,” wrote McCue in her May 22 resignation letter.
She also thanked her fellow board members and praised their efforts, saying, “The spirit of commitment and collaboration is one from which all arms of government could benefit. These friendships I will hold dear.”
Since her appointment in 2010, McCue has served on numerous BBG committees, including most recently as a member of the Special Committee on the Creation on a Chief Executive Officer.
“It has been a great honor to work with Susan,” said Chairman Jeff Shell. “She has been a tireless supporter of press freedom and a clear-eyed leader in helping shape U.S. international media today and into the future. While we knew the day would come when she would devote her time to the Millennium Challenge Corporation, she will be sorely missed.”
McCue is President of Message Global, a strategic advocacy firm she founded in 2008 to advance social action campaigns. She was the founding President and CEO of The ONE Campaign to combat extreme global poverty and was Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from 1999 to 2007. Before that, she held numerous communications positions in government and campaigns. She is currently Vice Chair of Humanity United and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
McCue was appointed to the BBG Board on July 2, 2010 to a term expiring on August 13, 2011. By law, any member whose term has expired may serve until a successor has been appointed and qualified.
Effective immediately, McCue will begin serving on the MCC board, a position to which she was confirmed by the Senate earlier this week.
The text of her resignation letter is below.
May 22, 2014
The White House
Washington DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As my nomination to serve on the board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation was confirmed by the US Senate this week, it is with deep gratitude that I submit my resignation from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) effective today.
Most importantly, I want to recognize the talented and courageous journalists, editors, producers, engineers, technicians and others in the great global BBG family who work tirelessly and in the face of enormous challenges to deliver objective news and information where it may not otherwise exist. Every day, they are bravely breaking down barriers. In doing so, they are advancing human freedom, security, opportunity and self-determination around the world. They are the heart, soul and backbone of US international media. It has been an honor.
I also want to sincerely thank my current and former Board colleagues. We have worked in partnership over the years to reform a complex agency during times of continual change and uncertainty. Progress is visible in many areas, particularly digital design and innovation.
Under the skilled leadership of current BBG chairman Jeff Shell and new Board members Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Kenneth Weinstein, and Matthew Armstrong, the BBG is in good hands. The spirit of commitment and collaboration is one from which all arms of government could benefit. These friendships I will hold dear.
In stepping down from the BBG, I will not be far away and will continue to champion its critical mission to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.
Again, thank you Mr. President for the opportunity to serve.