BBG Watch Guest Commentary

BBG Watch occasionally publishes guest commentaries. This one is from a current Voice of America (VOA) journalist who prefers to remain anonymous.

Views expressed here are only those of the author and not of BBG Watch, its volunteers, or sponsors. We should note that some of the other BBG Watch contributors found the author’s choice of words and some observations to be somewhat extreme, but, according to a few other Voice of America journalists we talked to, the commentary generally seems to reflect the mood of a lot of people in the BBG and VOA building, at least in terms of a sense of betrayal that is widely felt, we are told.

We invite those with opposing views and others who want to comment on this or other issues followed by BBG Watch to submit their op-eds for consideration.

Andy, We Hardly Knew Ye

By A Voice of America Journalist


The aftermath of Andy Lack’s truncated tenure as the first CEO of US international broadcasting will be felt for some time. He has hurt a lot of people personally and professionally by leaving his position after just a few weeks. It was a shi..y move from someone who turned out to have no class. I guess its best that we see what kind of person he really is now rather than later. That is about the only good thing about this debacle.

It is even more unfortunate that his happened at a time when we have what is probably the best Broadcasting Board of Governors and best BBG chairman we have ever had.

But actions have consequences, both for the actors and for those who enabled them.

I believe that one of those consequences is that BBG Chairman Jeff Shell should resign, or be fired.

Shell vouched for Andy Lack personally and professionally, publicly and privately. And Voice of America employees moved forward based on Shell’s strong assurances that Lack was the leader we needed. Now, Shell is left with egg on his face and has been personally and professionally embarrassed in a very public way. He is furious with Lack, and rightfully so. He was betrayed by him, and I hope he realizes how bad that makes him look. I hope he has the opportunity for some payback someday.

Shell has been irreparably damaged, both at BBG and NBC. Andy Lack cut his legs out from under him. We should thank Shell for his extraordinary service as chair the past few years, for his guts, his smarts and for his willingness to tell the truth regardless of the consequences. And then we should find a way for him to make a graceful exit. I doubt he is long for NBC, either. He bet on the wrong horse, and ended up caked in … . Lack’s decision to leave is going to have consequences for a lot of people for a long time. Lack doesn’t look good here, but Shell looks worse.

I believe when Lack comes to the end of his life and assesses his failures and successes, he will admit that this was one of his biggest professional mistakes. He has made, and earned, millions of dollars over his illustrious career and has deserved every one of them. He has given great service to the corporations that have employed him. I just wish he could have seen the importance of serving the country that gave him such great opportunities. We weren’t looking for a decade of service from you, you … . A couple of years would have been nice, though. That seems like the least you could do for your country, and for the millions of people who would benefit from a reinvigorated VOA. But I guess the money NBC is throwing at you means more. What will those extra millions do for you that the millions you have now don’t? Oh, sure, you’ll say this is all about the challenges at NBC, but what about the challenges that faced you here? Wasn’t that important enough for you to stay? Wait, don’t answer that — you already did. You’re just a rat who deserted a sinking ship.

The worst damage you have caused is that the majority of folks I have spoken with at VOA are convinced that you didn’t necessarily want to go to NBC; you were just looking for a way out of BBG because the problems are so severe here that you didn’t think they could be solved. That is what people think, and there is nothing you will be able to say or do to convince them otherwise. They think that once you really looked under the hood you came to the conclusion that the problems were not fixable. Thanks for the morale-booster, … .

What a selfish man. What a terrible mistake you and NBC have made.

NBC officials surely knew Andy Lack had just begun his new job. And they surely knew that BBG/VOA was in disarray and needed a proven leader like Andy Lack desperately. Yet they made a play for him, unconcerned about the needs of the country. I hope this all blows up in their face.

I am sorry for Andy Lack. I truly am. In fact, I pity him. How do you get to be 67 years old and not have formed the requisite moral and ethical compass to keep you from making such a poor decision?

Out of all the people in broadcast news, Andy Lack was the only one who could save NBC? Really? I wouldn’t want to be an NBC journalist. Who would want to work for a person who doesn’t keep his word? When the going gets tough at NBC will he desert that sinking ship as well?

I wonder what NBC is paying Lack; I always wanted to know how much a soul costs.

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