BBG Watch Commentary
Helle Dale, a Heritage Foundation expert on public diplomacy, wrote that “the news that the White House has sought to replace the only Republican currently serving on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), former U.S. ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe, has made many sit up and pay attention.”
“Ashe’s passion for transparency and battle against corruption and bad management has made him unpopular among the BBG leadership but a hero among its employees. Ashe’s departure, combined with an imbalance in filling vacant positions, would leave the BBG with a four–two majority in favor of the Democrats. That has an impact on broadcasting strategy. Ironically, the BBG was established legislatively by the Broadcasting Act of 1994, precisely as a firewall against the polarization of Voice of America and the other U.S. international broadcasters.”
We have reported that BBG’s top administrative leadership believed to be behind the push to get Ashe off the board is centered at the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). IBB’s executive staff has been repeatedly rated in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) federal employee viewpoint surveys as presiding over one of the worst-managed government agencies.
But IBB Director Richard Lobo and his wife have done political fundraisers for President Obama. Despite his dismal performance that has become an embarrassment for the Obama Administration, Lobo may still have some influence at the White House, some BBG Watch sources speculate.
“The response to the Victor Ashe fiasco proves that Americans really do want partisanship to stop and understand the importance of bipartisan public diplomacy for U.S. relations with the world,” Helle Dale wrote.
READ MORE: U.S. International Broadcasting and Public Diplomacy Should Be Bipartisan, Helle Dale, The Foundry – Heritage Foundation, May 31, 2013.