BBG Watch Commentary

During the Cold War, U.S. government-funded Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) was providing translation of foreign media reports for those who did not speak Russian and other languages, while also U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty provided cutting edge news reporting and commentaries which pointed out disinformation and propaganda in Soviet media.

These days, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) itself promotes on its English-language website and social media some of the same Putin clips offered by Russia’s propaganda outlets SPUTNIK and RT. RFE/RL is funded by U.S. taxpayers ($108 million in FY 2016) and overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) ($744 million total budget in FY 2016). In the earlier period, no one would confuse FBIS reports for being a conduit for Soviet propaganda. There was also no doubt that Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty content of the Cold War period was not only free of Soviet propaganda but was designed to expose it.

Did it occur to RFE/RL that the question about Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from Vera, a 12 year old Russian girl, may have been planted and the response carefully prepared for Vladimir Putin to score propaganda points at his press conference? Or should we assume that all 12 year old Russian girls, when given an opportunity to ask President Putin a question at his press conference, want to know:

Would Putin save Erdogan or Poroshenko if they were drowning? | an intro to RFE/RL Facebook post

Should U.S. taxpayers thank RFE/RL for all the trouble and money it took to create such a “wonderful and humorous” Vladimir Putin Facebook post with English subtitles showing the Russian President taking propaganda barbs at leaders of Ukraine and Turkey?

Just asking.

See for yourself.

Facebook – RFE/RL

Facebook – SPUTNIK


Russia’s RT did not get around yet to creating a separate Facebook post on Putin’s Poroshenko/Erdogan question/answer, but RT posted this on its website:

RT: Before giving his answer, the President pondered: “How do you tell a wife from a loved one? By smell?” When someone in the audience suggested it was probably done “by age,” Putin repeated the remark out loud, and laughed even more.

BBG Watch: We think Vladimir Putin has good reasons to laugh.

Back to RFE/RL

Of course, not everyone at RFE/RL is fooled by Vladimir Putin and Kremlin propaganda. One of those not fooled is Brian Whitmore.

Note: compared to RFE/RL’s Putin humor Facebook post, the audio quality of this RFE/RL Facebook post video analyzing Putin’s press conference is quite poor.

The question remains: why would anyone at RFE/RL waste time, money and limited journalistic talent on promoting Putin propaganda humor in the first place?

RFE/RL has been without permanent, BBG-appointed executive for over two years.