BBG Watch Commentary

“No need to apologize for speaking the truth about Russian propaganda.” – Helle C. Dale

Helle C. Dale, the Heritage Foundation’s senior fellow in public diplomacy, has joined others in the United States in expressing support for Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) new director and CEO Andy Lack in identifying “Russia’s propaganda offensive as one of his job’s major challenges, along with the rise of ISIS on social media and Boko Haram.”

While Lack’s comments, which came in an interview with The New York Times on Jan. 21, “provoked an immediate and outraged eruption from Russian officials,” the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB –, an independent media freedom NGO, described RT’s response to Lack’s comments as a deliberate propaganda ploy not supported by facts and designed to mislead public opinion. As proof of the power of RT’s disinformation and propaganda, even some Americans thought that Lack compared RT to terrorist groups, which he did not do.

HELLE C. DALE, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: “Lack has a point. Although Russia is a major power, not a terrorist organization, its brutal military offensive against the people of eastern Ukraine and its total censorship of local media violate every international treaty on border security and human rights. Russian intervention is a major challenge to the global order of the 21st century.
Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia Today [RT] spews a vitriolic mix of fiction and psychological manipulation. By eliminating access to other media sources, such as Voice of America and other international government and commercial broadcasters, Russia tries to control the minds of populations in Ukraine and other neighboring countries. All this was recently described by Peter Pomerantsev, a former employee of Russia Today, in Politico magazine.

READ MORE: via New U.S. International Broadcasting CEO Disses Russian Television – And, Surprise, Putin Doesn’t Like It, Helle C. Dale, The Daily Signal, the Heritage Foundation, February 2, 2015.

“Lack’s comments, perhaps indelicate but certainly true, have drawn some criticism here at home, and the State Department lost no time distancing itself,” Helle C. Dale wrote.

“But as the incoming CEO of a dysfunctional agency, he has a lot of more important things on his plate. No need to apologize for speaking the truth about Russian propaganda,” the Heritage Foundation scholar added.

Ted Lipien, a former Voice of America acting associate director who together with CUSIB’s Executive Director issued a statement in support of Andy Lack, said that he was disappointed by a few Americans who accepted at face value RT’s “feigned indignity.” RT played semantics with Lack’s words, a CUSIB statement said.

“Andy Lack told the truth and RT doth protest too much. The BBG needs a strong executive like Andy Lack who for now deserves bipartisan support as he attempts to reform U.S. international media outreach,” Lipien said. He should be given time and his work at the BBG can be assessed later,” he added.

Lipien is one of the founders and volunteer supporters of BBG Watch through Free Media Online, a 501 c 3, but CUSIB, which he also co-founded, is a separate and independent NGO. He was expressing his personal views.

BBG Watch also heard from members of Congress from both parties and their staffers who had met recently with Andy Lack. They expressed confidence in his ability and desire to carry out management reforms at the BBG.