BBG Watch

Russia’s RT has just reported that “Russia lists 9 media outlets as foreign agents, including Voice of America, Radio Liberty.” It was an expected move by Russia after the Trump administration forced RT to register as a foreign agent in the United States.

RT reported that “On Tuesday, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, including its regional branch Radio Azatliq, along with six other outlets were recognized as foreign agents, according to the website of Russia’s Ministry of Justice.”

According to RT, “The list also includes the Kavkaz.Realii, Krym Realii and Sibir Realii websites, the Current Time TV channel – a joint project of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – the Radio Liberty-owned website and IdelRealii project.”

In a highly unusual Facebook post for the Voice of America director, current VOA director Amanda Bennett, an Obama administration holdover, seemed to have implied before Russia’s decision was announced that she disagrees with earlier congressional and U.S. executive branch decisions to force Russia’s propaganda channel, RT, to register as a foreign agent in the United States.

Bennett wrote: “When the US government compels RT to register as a foreign agent, then other governments consider requiring US media to register as foreign agents and then…” Most previous Voice of America directors carefully avoided public comments on U.S. foreign policy and controversial domestic political issues in order not to contribute to partisanship and to preserve bipartisan support for VOA. Such comments also tend to influence VOA reporters, some of whom have already shown a strong tendency for partisan bias. Neither Bennett nor her boss, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO John Lansing, also an Obama era holdover, have any prior experience in U.S. public diplomacy or government service.

The post on VOA Director Amanda Bennett’s Facebook page appears to have been subsequently removed. Here is a screenshot image of the post taken the day after it appeared on Facebook.