BBG Watch Commentary
It is never the fault of International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) officials. If there is a public diplomacy crisis in Russia over the firing of dozens of Radio Liberty journalists or if hundreds of U.S. media reports and bloggers write that Voice of America programs are propaganda — they are not — IBB executives and their top level colleagues at VOA are never to blame. They are always blameless. When journalists and other people get hurt, when the reputation of Radio Liberty and Voice of America suffers, it is never their fault. They simply follow orders. (Where did we hear this before.) It’s not their job to anticipate problems and avoid them. It is not their job to provide good advice to part-time BBG board members. If you listened to them, you would think that they never make any recommendations to BBG members, good or bad. They are ordered to do things and they do them. (But only if they agree with them.)
They are like a clever Soviet communist party apparatchik who, when ordered by the collective to engage in a little public self-criticism, replied: “I have my ideas, but I don’t agree with them.” Clearly, when any crisis develops, IBB bureaucrats do not agree with their ideas. They are, however, eager to take credit for themselves if somebody else does something great, for example one of the broadcast services. In general, however, they like to stay in the background to avoid any problems and to keep their jobs. Let the Broadcasting Board of Governors take the blame. It’s safer and it’s easier. It gets them off the hook.
Big Brother Speaks! Lester & Charlie, Huff Post Comedy, July 19, 2013.
Taxpayer money at work: US-funded foreign broadcasts finally available in the US, Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News, July 20, 2013. Note comments from readers, these and many similar others under the NBC news article.
Another way to waste our tax dollars.
Aztlan: “I wish they were spending their own money.”
With sequestration and furloughs going, I think this is irresponsible.
Sources told BBG Watch that IBB bureaucrats are now saying that they had nothing to do whatsoever with the idea of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act and with how it was pushed through Congress without proper debate and public input. It was all the fault of Broadcasting Board of Governors members who ordered them to do what they did, these officials say.
For any blogger planning to write about the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, this is actually an excellent example of government propaganda at work because International Broadcasting Bureau officials were from very the beginning behind this poorly conceived and poorly executed idea. They desperately wanted extra powers without thinking what harm it could do to the organization if they acquired them in the wrong way and for the wrong purpose, which is what they did. This is not how the outdated restrictions should have been modified. There was a better, safer and less controversial way to do it. Most Americans would have approved. But the arrogant bureaucracy overreached. VOA and other U.S. international broadcasting employees will pay the price. Overseas audiences which need uncensored news will pay the price. Because we all know, it was not the IBB’s fault.
Below are just some of the hundreds of media reports on the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, many of them making various inaccurate and sometimes wild claims — partly because of the wrong approach taken to changing the law and the misinformation campaign launched by the IBB — but nearly all harming the reputation of the Voice of America (VOA) and undermining bipartisan support for U.S. international broadcasting.
Thank you IBB. We know, it’s not your fault. This is just to let Broadcasting Board of Governors members, BBG employees and Americans know about your latest success.
The evaporation of Smith-Mundt and other provisions to safeguard U.S. citizens against government propaganda campaigns is part of a larger trend within the …
Fulbright’s amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky, D, who argued that such “propaganda” should be kept out …