Broadcasting Board of Governors – Information War Lost: (Yet Another) Silver Bullet Placebo
by The Federalist
As reported by BBG Watch, it is anticipated that the Obama administration’s FY2014 budget will include language for the creation of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Broadcasting Board of Governors/International Broadcasting Bureau (BBG/IBB).
This is something concocted by the IBB executive staff – you know, the people who have presided over the systematic destruction of US Government international broadcasting and in the process making the agency “the worst organization in the Federal Government” and one of the worst places to work in the Federal Government, according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) employee viewpoint official surveys.
What is the intent of the senior IBB staff here?
Answer: the intent is not to fix a failed agency with a failed mission. The intent is to preserve the IBB status quo, to proceed with business as usual and to complete the removal of the United States Government from any effective strategic international broadcast communication with the rest of the world.
This is yet another typical Washington blunder – trying to legislate a fix for an agency that is systemically in disarray, largely due to actions precipitated by the IBB senior executive staff.
Across the board, the agency is shedding audience like water off a duck. We’ve said this before and it bears repeating.
Because the consequence is that the United States no longer speaks with an authoritative voice with world publics. It doesn’t speak with an authoritative voice because that voice cannot be heard or seen. The agency’s audiences are plummeting. They could be as little as 175 million – out of a world population of 7-BILLION. It is still the same as it was in 2008, despite larger budgets and continuing growth of the world’s population. That is not making much headway in the court of global public opinion, so to speak.
And here is another thing: a trend once started is very hard to reverse. This trend has some horsepower behind it. And for this agency, the window of opportunity to reverse the trend, if not closed entirely, is barely cracked open.
(Another disturbing trend, the agency makes more news for failing than it does for succeeding, which in turn gives more impetus to the trend.)
That laundry list of failing is almost universal:
A “flim flam, Soviet-style strategic plan” that has been almost universally debunked except on the Third Floor of the Cohen Building and which has resulted in the agency going low on the radar of international broadcasting.
Voice of America (VOA): Its Central Newsroom characterized as “schizophrenic,” struggles to put hard news out to global publics in an organized fashion, being whipsawed by its managers between headline news, breaking and developing news, costly and time-consuming (an ultimately untimely) video production, failures of its Dalet operating system. And if that isn’t bad enough, slashing away at the VOA radio broadcasts by former CNN managers with a video-centric world view. And lest we forget: bottom dwellers in the annual Federal employee survey making the agency the worst place to work in the Federal Government.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL): The current front-runner in dysfunction via the intentional demolition of its Russian Service and some other serious gaffes in program content by its Kazakh Service
Radio Sawa/Alhurra TV: Please don’t say that you still believe in that “Arab Spring” nonsense. This expensive operation has little or no resonance with Arab/Muslim publics. Just look at the direction of the countries going through revolutions across the Middle East – away from secular Western democratic principles and more toward Islamic fundamentalism.
US Government international broadcasting didn’t get to this sorry state of affairs overnight. It got to where it is through the persistent efforts of an embedded, arrogant and self-serving IBB executive staff.
And we’ve seen the lengths to which this cabal will go to in order to protect themselves and their interests. Just have a look at a tainted, biased and opinionated Office of Inspector General (OIG) report on the BBG – delivered lock, stock and barrel by the apparatchiks of the IBB staff and regurgitated by the OIG.
It behooves the upper reaches of the government – both in the executive and legislative branches – to break with denying reality. The reality of the situation is that the IBB is a rogue operation that doesn’t follow orders from the Board. That is called insubordination – at this level, it is gross insubordination, ample justification for removal from the Federal Service for cause.
Anything this rogue operation puts its stamp of approval on is highly suspect – and that leads us directly to a discussion of a “Chief Executive Officer.”
We believe that a “Chief Executive Officer” will have little or no impact on the dismal state of affairs inside the Cohen Building. The agency already has an Executive Director. That position and that individual haven’t made the agency’s fate better. It has seen the situation deteriorate dramatically.
You can call a person an “executive director.” You can call a person a “chief executive officer.” It doesn’t matter. They are only words on a piece of paper. They do not address the underlying problems this agency has.
It is a no-win situation for whoever would be posted to such a position. This person is not going to be a miracle worker. The person may be more like a mortician presiding over the final chapter of this agency’s history.
If the CEO comes from within the ranks of the current senior IBB staff, that indicates endorsement of “business as usual.” We already know what that is. As part of the “flim flam Soviet-style strategic plan,” the IBB seeks to develop a posture that is more “corporate” in nature.
Corporate as in Enron.
Former Secretary of State Clinton made that clear on two occasions immediately before and after she exited the office. When you hear words like dysfunctional and defunct, you’re being given a clear picture as to how far gone the agency is – gone far enough to be abolished. Most regrettable as that would be, the situation leans more (heavily) in that direction than in rehabilitating the agency’s effectiveness.
If the CEO comes from outside the ranks of the current senior IBB staff, the person would need a constitution of steel to deal with the IBB cabal whose group behavior is intent upon destroying anyone who stands in the way of what we see as one of the largest cases of failure, cover-up and waste of American taxpayer money inside the United States Government. Please talk with BBG Governor Ambassador Victor Ashe who takes his job as a public official seriously. Send him an email. He’ll tell you what it’s been like. In fact, he doesn’t need to. People who know the situation well didn’t waste any time taking a stand with Ambassador Ashe in support of his efforts on behalf of the agency, its mission, its working staff and U.S. taxpayers.
And keep in mind, this isn’t the only time these disreputable individuals have gone after a member of the BBG or other senior staff. There’s a history. A good part of it documented and preserved.
If a CEO is selected by the BBG and is in effect the chief of staff of the BBG, there may be a chance to corral the wildlife of the senior IBB staff. However, that person should be prepared for a battle on his/her hands. Putting the CEO under the Board and not part of the IBB gives leverage and altitude over the IBB staff. And that person needs every possible advantage.
However, the main issue remains: that person needs a constitution of steel to take on the senior IBB staff. They are not good people. They are not nice people. They are not misunderstood people.
They are the “self-interested, power-hungry, revengeful bureaucrats.”