Kenneth Y Tomlinson

By The Federalist

Kenneth Y Tomlinson, a former Voice of America (VOA) director and a former chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) died in Virginia on Friday, May 2, 2014.

Mr. Tomlinson’s tenure as VOA director is perhaps remembered as one of the better times in the agency.

His tenure as a BBG chairman is remembered less so and possibly not for the right reasons. Some decisions made during his chairmanship were not easily understandable or acceptable by those who knew him while VOA director.

The agency had changed. The composition of the board at the time introduced a dynamic that could well be argued to be negative, to say the least. Mr. Tomlinson had enemies on the board and in the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and they went after him. Mr. Tomlinson could be tenacious and combative when under attack. He would have been better served if he had a higher caliber of people around him, to advise him better in dealing with those intending to do him harm in matters related to the running of the agency. He had some, to be certain. They are people loyal to the man to this day, even unto his death. But they weren’t enough.

It might also be argued that it was at this time the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) made the turn toward the malevolence for which it is now most often associated. In short, the malice and character assassination demonstrated toward Ambassador Victor Ashe while on the board began during Mr. Tomlinson’s tenure. Those familiar with the particulars know the details of the attempt to destroy Mr. Tomlinson personally, professionally and financially. Mr. Tomlinson prevailed but many would say that it changed him forever. What may have not been outwardly apparent at the time later came to be seen as a pattern of going after people who were viewed as obstacles to hidden agendas of an entrenched bureaucracy.

Tomlinson came up hard. He could relate to people who made well for themselves from humble beginnings. He often liked to act the simple soul of a Virginia country boy. But in reality, there was a lot more of substance to the man.

Kenneth Y Tomlinson was a good man. There are never enough good men, or women. The state of the agency at present is testament to that and its malice toward good people who put the national and public interest above self interest.

We extend our condolences to Mrs. Tomlinson and the family.

May Ken Tomlinson rest in peace in the embrace of the heartland of the Old Dominion.

The Federalist
May 2014