BBG Watch Commentary

Steven Korn Resignation Image
Steven Korn, RFE/RL

In an interview with The Washington Post, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President and CEO Steven Korn continues to promote his fictitious account of events surrounding his disastrous tenure at RFE/RL. Despite numerous and credible reports that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) had in fact asked him to resign, given him 45 days to leave, and stripped him of his authority to fire employees, Korn insists that he left for purely personal reasons. He also presents himself as an agent of change and continues to defame experienced, talented and award-winning Radio Liberty journalists, whom he had fired or who resigned in protest, by implying that they were not capable of doing digital media.

Critics blame Korn for creating the worst crisis in U.S. international broadcasting history.

Korn’s claims to the contrary have been countered by numerous RFE/RL journalists, U.S. government officials, and outside experts.

Former Voice of America acting Associate Director and former BBG regional Marketing Director Ted Lipien posted a comment for The Washington Post article:

“Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) president Steven Korn continues to defame talented and courageous Radio Liberty journalists, whom he had fired in a most brutal fashion, by suggesting that they are backward and deficient. Nothing could be further from the truth, with which Mr. Korn seems to have major problems.

The fired journalists are in fact some of the most respected independent reporters and new media specialists in Russia. Many of them have received prestigious journalism awards, specifically for their old website and online human rights reporting.

That is why the whole human rights and democratic opposition movement, including Alexeeva, Gorbachev, former Prime Minister Kasyanov, former Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov and countless others, have defended them and turned against Korn, Julia Ragona, Masha Gessen and their new team, whose members have no name recognition in Russia and have lost online audience, more than 50% by some Russian media accounts citing open statistics.

These Russian leaders all concluded that Radio Liberty’s reputation in Russia has been ruined and asked for the fired journalists to be rehabilitated and brought back.

Freedom House President David Kramer said that nothing short of a complete housecleaning of the RFE/RL top leadership is required. “The damage they have done is immeasurable,” Kramer concluded.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors member Ambassador Victor Ashe welcomed the resignation of Steven Korn as necessary for RFE/RL to survive. He told reporters: “Korn’s departure was necessary for the survival of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). He was feared and disliked by most employees. His self serving letter of resignation sets a new standard for arrogance and delusion. His hiring was a terrible mistake we will spend years recovering from.”

Ted Lipien
Former Voice of America acting Associate Director and former BBG regional Marketing Director for Eurasia

READ MORE: Radio Liberty loses its license in Moscow, and Russians raise voices in dismay by Kathy Lally, The Washington Post, January 3, 2013.

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