Jane Smith

Can the BBG’s IBB bureaucrats get any lower?

by Jane Doe

So, I haven’t written for a while because things at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) seemed to be improving. Three engaged governors (Ashe, McCue and Meehan) plus the Secretary of State’s designee (Sonenshine) were actually working together to improve U.S. international broadcasting (USIB) and to solve longstanding problems. Morale was starting to improve! The federal agency was actually moving forward. The mess at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) was getting fixed. The other grantees were humming along. Alas! This improving situation could not continue. It had to be be stopped!!

So in a stunning act of vindictiveness, a nomination to succeed Governor Victor H. Ashe has been sent to the Senate. Of course, Governor Ashe is the only governor with a perfect attendance record, so in a dysfunctional agency that cannot meet and make decisions because of a lack of a quorum you must get rid of the only Governor who has never missed a meeting! That makes perfect sense, right? Even though there are two other open Republican seats that could have been filled, the Administration chose to replace Governor Ashe.

Now the question is “why”? Did the BBG’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) staff really convince everyone that Governor Ashe was the problem? Governor Ashe, who is well regarded by the federal and non federal employees, viewed as a savior of RFE/RL and lauded by the federal unions? As a Republican! Governor Ashe who spotted the problems at RFE/RL early on and tried to stop the fiasco before it happened? Governor Ashe who worked tirelessly to repair the reputation of RFE/RL? Governor Ashe who has been awarded the “Champion of Free Speech” by the New York chapter of the Visual Artists Guild? Yes. Let’s get rid of him.

Is there no level that is too low for the IBB to stoop? There is no logical explanation for the decision to replace Governor Ashe when two other slots are available to fill. Either the IBB staff bureaucrats have succeeded in once again preventing any meaningful oversight by the Board or the Administration is bowing to the wishes of its big contributors–IBB Diector Dick Lobo or the absent Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton. Maybe both–Dick Lobo has been incapable of running the agency and he and his wife contribute tons of money.

Clearly, fixing USIB by having active, engaged Governors willing to tackle difficult problems is not a priority. One can only hope that this nomination moves along at the snail’s pace that other nominations have moved.