By Ted Lipien
The New York Times chose to use a catchy headline, “Evelyn Lieberman, Aide Who Moved Monica Lewinsky From White House, Dies at 71,” but Ms. Lieberman was also a former director of the Voice of America (VOA) and had a long record of public service, which was reflected in the New York Times article.
VOA’s 23rd director (1997-1999), Evelyn Lieberman, grew up being familiar what VOA was doing. Her family in Europe listened to the Voice of America. (See VOA video below.)
As Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) regional marketing director for Eurasia, I traveled with Ms. Lieberman to Moscow in the late 1990s when she was VOA director. She was extraordinarily careful not to do or say anything that the Russian government or Russian media could use to imply that VOA would step back from its mission of serving those who were deprived of free media or could not rely on their own media because of threats and corruption.
Ms. Lieberman spoke some Russian, asked good questions, and showed excellent judgement and diplomatic skills throughout the visit. She sent me a gracious thank-you letter. During our trip, we did not talk about Monica Lewinsky. Only later I found out about her attempts to manage the unfortunate behavior of President Clinton.
In my personal view, Ms. Lieberman was one of the last VOA directors who had high-level White House access, public service experience, broad knowledge of foreign policy, and good political sense and management skills. My thoughts are with her family.