BBG Watch Commentary

Government Executive LogoGovernment Executive website,, quoted from John Lenczowski’s Wall Street Journal op-ed and BBG Watch reports about management problems at the Voice of America (VOA) and International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and U.S. media outreach in response the Kremlin’s propaganda. Both VOA and IBB report to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

Government Executive reported that in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Friday, John Lenczowski, founder of the Institute for World Politics, argued that “the Voice of America shouldn’t be a whisper,” saying, “Moscow has a virtual monopoly on the narrative.”

In reference to our website, Government Executive wrote:

“…the anonymous current and former BBG employees who run the blog “Voice of America — Yesterday’s News Tomorrow,” ran the headline on an item mocking VOA’s “embarrassing mistakes” in posting on all of its outlets detailed coverage of an April 13 anti-censorship demonstration in Moscow 24 hours after commercial media covered it. (We reported that Voice of America English news website was more than 24 hours late in posting a news report on a major demonstration in Moscow against the Kremlin’s propaganda and censorship of the press in Russia.  We also reported that while VOA Russian Service had posted  a report on the demonstration, the vast majority of VOA’s more than 40 language services had no news about this anti-Putin protest in Moscow.)

The blog also criticized VOA for being nearly three hours late on April 14 in reporting that President Obama and Putin had spoken by phone on resolving the crisis, a development that the Moscow-controlled Voice of Russia had first.”

The article also said that “BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil told Government Executive that the otherwise ‘informative’ Wall Street Journal op-ed (by John Lenczowski) erred in its description of how the AM broadcasts in Moscow ended.”

IBB must have given Lynne Weil incomplete information because in our view John Lenczowski did not err in describing the final shutdown of VOA broadcasts in Moscow on 810kHz AM in April 2014, an action which he attributed to the Kremlin. In his op-ed, Lenczowski focused primarily on the 2008 decision to end all direct Voice of America (VOA) Russian radio and satellite television broadcasts to Russia and Russian speakers in former Soviet republics, including Ukraine. This 2008 action was taken not by the Kremlin, but by International Broadcasting Bureau officials in Washington reporting to the Broadcasting Board of Governors while the AM frequency in Moscow was still available. IBB could have also broadcast at that time to Russia and Ukraine on an AM frequency from Lithuania, a U.S. ally in the region. This option also exists today, but IBB officials do not want to use it.

Read More: Is BBG Missing Opportunities With Its Coverage of the Ukraine Crisis? By Charles S. Clark, Government Executive, April 18, 2014.