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In a two-part article published in the USC Center on Public Diplomacy CPD Blog, former Voice of America (VOA) senior correspondent Dan Robinson concluded that “One thing is clear: the Donald Trump who came to power promising to drain the D.C. swamp has so far not done much when it comes to the well-known quagmire at the BBG.”

In PART I: TRUMP’S BIG FAIL (SO FAR) AT THE BBG/VOA,” Robinson noted that “VOA director Amanda Bennett and her deputy Sandy Sugawara-—both also Obama holdovers-—remain in place, with Bennett facing ongoing criticisms of her leadership.”


The 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results brought more bad news as reported by the independent watchdog website BBG Watch. The impact was summarized by the American Federation of Government Employees 1812 Union: “Low morale is an existential threat to this Agency, and [it’s] about time leaders and managers acknowledge that and do something about it.”

Robinson noted in part one of his article that “legendary morale problems” continue under BBG CEO John Lansing, also an Obama holdover.

In part two, he writes:

Emails and other messages from reporters and other staff at VOA are filled with descriptions like “toxic” and “unhappy.” Managers are described as “disrespectful” and “incompetent.”

“President Trump was reported to have settled months ago on [Michael] Pack, [now former] head of conservative think tank the Claremont Institute, to replace Lansing,” Robinson reported.

“What … has not occurred is any change in the BBG’s top leadership,” Robinson pointed out.

In part two of his article, Robinson wrote:

The absence of any movement on the anticipated Trump nomination of Pack —or at least the perception of none-—gives the impression that Obama–holdover Amanda Bennett is permanently entrenched at VOA.
Early in her tenure, she brought in a friend from The Washington Post, Sandy Sugawara (formerly associated with the Post-sponsored website Trove that closed in 2015), as deputy director.

Dan RobinsonDan Robinson retired in 2014 after 34 years with the Voice of America. In addition to his White House posting as senior VOA correspondent, he served as bureau chief in Nairobi, Kenya and Bangkok, Thailand. He was also the chief of the VOA Burmese Service and the Capitol Hill correspondent. Views expressed in the CPD Blog article are his own.

READ MORE: PART I: TRUMP’S BIG FAIL (SO FAR) AT THE BBG/VOA, Dan Robinson, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog, November 17, 2017.


READ MORE: PART II: TRUMP’S BIG FAIL (SO FAR) AT THE BBG/VOA, Dan Robinson, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog, November 17, 2017.


ALSO SEE: ‘Quagmire at the BBG’ still awaits Trump reforms, former VOA correspondent explains why, BBG Watch, November 17, 2017.


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