BBG Watch Media

C-SPAN has posted its Communicators with John Lansing video.

John Lansing is new Chief Executive Officer at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

He was answering questions from New York Times Washington correspondent Ron Nixon and C-SPAN Host Peter Slen.

Click HERE if you don’t see the video.

BBG Watch Commentary

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) new CEO and Director John Lansing received softball questions and answered them in his usual impressive smooth manner. Unfortunately, the C-SPAN audience would have learned very little from his answers about the management crisis at the agency and its persistent inability to counter ISIS and Putin’s propaganda or to engage in a significant way with most overseas audiences, although he did say that impact and engagement are much more important than reach.

The BBG was described in 2013 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “practically defunct” and exposed by both Republicans and Democrats in their bipartisan H.R. 2323 BBG reform bill for numerous failings. John Lansing, being new on the scene, is not responsible for causing these failures, but according to congressional sources who disapprove of his public relations and lobbying campaign, he is “leading the charge,… trying to convince Senate members to reject H.R.2323.”

Without any previous government experience and U.S. international media outreach experience, John Lansing is forced to rely on agency bureaucrats who are leading him astray and giving him really bad advice. Being a good manager, he has, however, made day-to-day operations better, especially for those who are doing their jobs well, according to reliable agency sources. But the structural problem remains unsolved and cannot be solved by him alone, even as an “empowered CEO,” which could be both meaningless and dangerous depending on who occupies the position.

The C-SPAN interview was a typical Washington PR, but it was not very enlightening for American audiences. He repeated a lot of misleading themes which had to be fed to him by the entrenched and failed BBG federal bureaucracy. One of these themes is that if Americans only knew what the Voice of America and other BBG media entities were doing, they would ask for more money for the BBG.

If Americans knew more how the Voice of America (VOA), for example, describes Americans as cheap, lazy and cowardly in the face of the terrorist threats, in addition to may other VOA news reporting failures, they would more likely ask that the agency be defunded. Congressional supporters of H.R. 2323 bill don’t want this to happen because they still believe that some BBG journalists and elements are capable of doing an outstanding and much needed job under the right leadership and with proper oversight. Members of Congress who support H.R. 2323 believe that at least some BBG elements are performing well despite the unworkable system the BBG bureaucracy has set against them. Overall, however, congressional sources see the BBG as a big failure — a controversy which the C-SPAN interview did not bring out in any informative way.

John Lansing was definitely misled by BBG staff that VOA was objective in reporting on the Iran deal. VOA was not unbiased or objective, as documented by The Wall Street Journal and others. He certainly gives an impression of being a capable manager, but at least in this interview he does not come across as someone who is against the status quo and understands the magnitude of mismanagement at the BBG. Despite his impressive performance as an interviewee, John Lansing is not convincing in this interview to those familiar with the BBG as someone would be able to fix the agency’s monumental problems on his own without help from better advice and from congressional legislation such as H.R. 2323.

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