BBG Watch Commentary
Initiated by government bureaucracy, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act is ruining Voice of America’s reputation for no good reason.
International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) officials have achieved what KGB disinformation and propaganda machine could not achieve during the Cold War despite trying. They have undermined bipartisan support for VOA and made it a subject of domestic controversy. Through their actions these IBB bureaucrats, are ruining VOA’s good name and its ability to serve audiences abroad.
We are not saying that U.S. media is completely wrong in questioning the change in the Smith-Mundt Act or that they are wrong expressing fears about what government bureaucrats are doing, plan to do or will do with their new powers to distribute news to Americans. Maintream media and bloggers have every right to be concerned.
What we are saying is that this controversy is harming the good name of the Voice of America (VOA) and its journalists for no good reason other than what officials in the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) have done to bring it upon themselves and VOA with the change in the law they wanted only for themselves.
We could see the political storm coming miles away.
Serving only overseas audiences, especially those in countries without free media, the Voice of America enjoyed a secure identity and bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans.
Now, VOA has become a subject of unwanted domestic controversy. It is being wrongly portrayed in U.S. media as a government propaganda outfit only because IBB officials and some of their supporters within the State Department and among foreign policy and national security consultants wanted the Smith-Mundt Act changed to justify more jobs, more funding and something new to do for themselves.
They used deceptive and misleading arguments to modify the old law.
IBB officials had put out many misleading statements that contradicted and hid the following facts which were very well known to them:
1. It was legal under the old law for Americans and American media to to use and rebroadcast Voice of America programs in the U.S. if they wanted to.
2. American citizens and American media already had easy access to these programs on the Internet, on shortwave radio, and on communications satellites.
3. Ethnic communities in the U.S. and their media were already using VOA programs.
4. There was no great demand for these programs in the U.S. Anybody who wanted them already could get them.
5. The only thing the old law did was to prohibit government officials like themselves from actively distributing and marketing VOA programs to Americans.
The old law did not restrict the rights of Americans. It restricted the powers of government officials within IBB. They did not like it.
Why did they not predict and warn members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), their oversight bipartisan board, that the change in the law will become highly controversial and may undermine future funding for VOA?
Here are links to some of the articles that are making Voice of America and its outstanding journalists look bad. Compliments of IBB — the worst managers in the entire federal government according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS).