BBG Watch Commentary

In a strong rebuke of the current Obama era management in charge of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the Trump administration said in its new National Security Strategy document that “U.S. efforts to counter the exploitation of information by rivals have been tepid and fragmented.”

The Trump administration also said that “U.S. efforts have lacked a sustained focus and have been hampered by the lack of properly trained professionals.”

The National Security Strategy document promised to “reexamine legacy delivery platforms for communicating U.S. messages overseas” as part of what was described as “information statecraft.”

The Trump administration’s view of the BBG is shared by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) who together with the committee’s Ranking Democrat Member Rep. Eliot Engel (D, NY) has been in the forefront of bipartisan congressional efforts to reform the agency.

In a statement issued on the administration’s national security strategy, Chairman Royce said that A revitalized U.S. broadcasting system is critical to countering the spread of terror, promoting human rights, and checking Putin’s aggression.

READ MORE: Chairman Royce Statement on Admin’s National Security Strategy, House Foreign Affairs Committee Press Release, December 18, 2017.


SEE: Information Statecraft in National Security Strategy is a rebuke of Broadcasting Board of Governors, BBG Watch, December 18, 2017.


VOA Raw Footage Video Rallies in Pakistan Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 3:34 PM ET
Protests in Muslim World 12-08-2017 VOA Video 1,400,000 Views Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 6:41PM ET

Criticism of the Broadcasting Board of Governors has been bipartisan. In 2013, the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, herself an ex officio member of the BBG Board, called the agency “practically defunct.” It continues to be rocked by scandals and dismal employee morale under its current holdover management.

Critics, including some former BBG Board members, says that The Voice of America (VOA) is at times contributing to extremism abroad and at home instead of countering it. In an apparent attempt to make President Trump and his Jerusalem decision look as bad as possible, VOA editors posted in the last ten days several raw footage videos showing demonstrations in the Muslim world with anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans and burnings of U.S. and Israeli flags. While experienced journalists have no objections to reporting objectively and with balance on such protests, as BBC and Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) did over the last few days, the one-sided VOA videos included no other journalistic content, balance or analysis, as required by the VOA Charter.

The only other major international broadcaster who also made wide use of these raw footage videos was Russia’s propaganda channel RT.

RT, which was clearly looking for adding fuel to the fire in the Middle East and for fanning anti-Americanism, seemed to have found a partner among strongly biased anti-Trump editors at the Voice of America.

The two most viewed VOA videos on Facebook during the last ten days were one of the videos showing anti-American and anti-Israeli demonstrations and a video showing a rescue of a deer from a frozen lake in Oregon.

It seems that VOA under its current Obama era management is trying to achieve impact by capitalizing in a one-sided way on anti-Americanism and by appealing to people’s fascination with animal trivia.

Five VOA raw footage videos of the burnings of American and Jewish flags had over 3.4 million views as of December 17. The VOA deer rescue video had 1.3 million views as of December 18. Most other VOA videos in the last ten days, especially more news-oriented, had less than 50K Facebook views each.


VOA Raw Footage Video Rallies in Pakistan 12-07-2017 785000 Views Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 6:25 PM ET