BBG Watch Commentary

anonymous surferOne of BBG Watch contributors, Jane Doe, who because of her sensitive position within the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) – the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) bureaucracy prefers to remain anonymous, has prepared for us and for the BBG Board a series of analyses of the IBB – BBG debacles. We started with IBB – BBG Debacles – Legal by Jane Doe and IBB – BBG Debacles – Management by Jane Doe. Today we continue with:

IBB – BBG Debacles – Anti-Reform Act folks by Jane Doe

“You’re not the Boss of me!” BBG staff to Federal Courts, Federal Arbitrators, OPM, OMB and Congress!!! (oh wait,… you ARE the boss of me – my bad)

Is it me or does almost all of the anti-Reform Act rhetoric rely on hypothetical extrapolations, self-preservation and/or scare tactics rather than substance in the Bill language?

Since the bipartisan Bill landed — Royce -Engel U.S. International Broadcasting Reform Legislation – H.R. 4490, the United States International Communications Reform Act — [ BBG member] Matt Armstrong, who reportedly has yet to have any in-depth discussion with the entity heads about the work they do every day everywhere, feels confident in saying to VOA staff in a group discussion that the Bill is “less than inarticulate”. In his statements since the Bill was presented, his message has been “we don’t need reform, we’ve fixed all the problems already” – seriously? Is it a coincidence that this is also the mantra of the so-called “OSD” (aka Rob’s Kingdom formerly known as Bruce’s Kingdom)?

Examples from the Anti-Reform Act folks:

Anti-Reform Act folks example one – A scathing LA Times op-ed written by a VOA correspondent in London who is himself a foreign service employee (limited appointment) of the USG. Pretty sweet gig – wouldn’t want to lose that cushy position. Seems a bit ironic that he objects to having a VOA refocused on making sure the US and her policies are accurately and objectively presented to the world.

Anti-Reform Act folks example two – David Ensor’s actions and support of this kind of “journalism” by a VOA correspondent seems a bit self-serving and inappropriate given that the Bill’s objectives include addressing the bloat in VOA management in whom the broadcasters no longer have faith. (The bill reprioritizes the use of resources to go to content producers.) The issue is not whether the guy had the right to express his opinion. (doesn’t everyone? Ha!) The issue is having the VOA Director calling out this VOA journalist for his non-fact based opposition to the Reform Act currently being considered by Congress. Perhaps Ensor should look into the well-documented VOA coverage gaps enumerated in the BBG Watch.…Just sayin’…

Anti-Reform Act folks example three – Some people, including those I used to respect, seems to read “broad US foreign policies” as a bad thing. News flash: there would be no need for any USG-funded civilian broadcasting if the US did not support broad foreign policy objectives like … Free speech, free press, freedom of religion, the rule of law, freedom of association, democracy, government accountability, and human dignity. Frankly I am a little concerned that VOA management does not want to promote these values. The bill asks them to report on these things under all the values of journalistic ethics brought forward from the original VOA charter.

This “US mouthpiece” business is a boogeyman. It’s not real. The bill does not allow the USG to tell VOA reporters how to create content. The bill focuses the VOA journalists on content that is woefully under-reported: US fundamental principles (freedom, democracy, human rights, global peace for all), the US’ good works all over the world (on which we spend billions of $$) and debunking with the truth–the false narratives about the US aggressively put forth by those who don’t share US values. There is no muzzle; there is no additional State department content. Meetings between the CEOs and State as required in the bill are informational and for purposes of de-conflicting. All these objections are simply conjecture.

Yeah – I’m a lot concerned that federal employees in management positions don’t want to promote US values.

But wait, there’s more —

Jane Doe’s IBB – BBG Debacles will continue until the Broadcasting Board of Governors Board meeting on June 20, in Miami, Florida. Please keep checking our BBG Watch website for updates.

ALSO READ: IBB – BBG Debacles – Legal by Jane Doe, BBG Watch, June 16, 2014.

ALSO READ: IBB – BBG Debacles – Management by Jane Doe, BBG Watch, June 17, 2014.

READING MATERIAL (Optional, But Highly Recommended)

READ MORE: Waste and Abuse of Power at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, According to Audit, By Reid Standish, Foreign Policy Blog, June 17, 2014.

International Labor Rights Forum Charges Discrimination at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, BBG Watch, June 16, 2014.

READ: Federal Labor Relations Authority Judge slams BBG for law violations, BBG Watch, June 4, 2014.

READ: Federal court issues another rebuke to IBB officials accused of mistreating journalists, BBG Watch, May 19.

READ: Voice of America wasted estimated millions on improper contract payments, Radio Free Asia gets clean bill of health, BBG Watch, May 3, 2014.

READ: Protests from Helsinki Committee, bad publicity continue for RFE/RL over treatment of foreign journalist staff, BBG Watch, April 3, 2014.