BBG Watch Commentary
Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO John F. Lansing apparently gave an interview to Russia’s propaganda channel SPUTNIK.
If granting an interview to a well-known anti-U.S. and anti-Western Kremlin disinformation and information war outlet was not a bad enough sign of incredible inexperience and poor judgement on his part, what John F. Lansing told SPUTNIK, if he is quoted correctly and it is not a fake interview, is truly stunning.
SPUTNIK reported: “Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO and Director John Lansing says that the United States and Russia are not in an information war.”
JOHN LANSING AS QUOTED BY SPUTNIK: “I wouldn’t call it an information war,” Lansing said on Tuesday. “I would say that our interest is in US international media being professional, independent, and objective, and truth telling in its approach.”
READ MORE: Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO: US, Russia Not in State of Information War, SPUTNIK (Russia), February 8, 2017.
We have contacted several Russia and international media experts and this is what they all agree on:
“It is clear that Mr. Lansing lacks much needed media savvy on the international stage. He should have known better than to engage with SPUTNIK, one of the two of Kremlin’s main propaganda and disinformation outlets. But if that’s what Mr. Lansing needs to do to keep his job, we understand, although we hope that the Trump administration will realize the tremendous importance of having an experienced person in charge of how America responds to hostile disinformation, misinformation, withholding of information, lies, exaggerations, omissions, and innuendos from hostile propaganda actors such as SPUTNIK and RT.”
Under John Lansing’s watch since September 2015, the BBG’s flagship broadcaster, the Voice of America (VOA), managed by VOA director Amanda Bennett, has reached the level of partisan bias never before seen in VOA’s 75 years of existence.
Several VOA newsroom reporters mocked then President-elect Donald Trump at a holiday party held at the VOA headquarters last December, calling him “a joke.” They also made fun of Trump’s wife and daughter. At least one VOA staffer live-streamed the anti-Trump jokes, including a sex joke about the future First Lady Melania Trump.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, a VOA foreign language service posted online a video in which Donald Trump was called by a Hollywood actor ““punk,” “dog,” “pig,” “con,” “buls**t artist,” “mutt,” “idiot,” “fool,” “bozo,” and “blatantly stupid.” VOA did not attach to the video a rebuttal or a response of any kind. It was a clear violation of the VOA Charter. The video was eventually removed after BBG Watch reported about it.
To this day, some VOA reporters continue to mock President Trump in their social media postings, both personal and even VOA job-related. One VOA reporter used an F-word to describe Trump in a personal social media post which was accessible by Facebook users.
In another stunning admission of BBG management and leadership failure, the Voice of America Persian Service manager’s alleged Twitter account was declared last week to belong to an impostor and was shut down, even though it was followed for several years as a legitimate Twitter account by the VOA Persian Service, the BBG management, the VOA Public Relations Office, scores of VOA, MBN, BBC and other U.S. and international journalists, as well as Iranian human rights activists and others.
How such an allegedly fake Twitter account in the name of the VOA Persian Service manager could have survived and fool the public for so long without anyone at the BBG or VOA alerting the public for several years is another stunning mystery and a stunning poof of the current BBG management’s inability to lead America’s digital outreach to the world which is full of anti-American and anti-democratic propaganda and disinformation.
According to John Lansing, the BBG will not be countering propaganda but engaging in good journalism. We would like to point out that to have good journalism one must be able to see through propaganda and disinformation, to identify its sources, such as SPUTNIK, and to be able to correct their lies rather than grant them interviews.
Broadcasting Board of Governors Republican member Matt Armstrong, who has resigned recently his position on the now advisory board, told contacts in Congress that he has lost faith and confidence in the ability of the BBG Chief Executive Officer John Lansing to lead the agency effectively in support of U.S. foreign policy.
According to congressional sources, Matt Armstrong told his contacts on the Hill that when the BBG Board still had full governing authority, Lansing disregarded the recommendations, concerns, and requests of Members of the Board, and has willfully withheld information from the Board.
BBG Watch has learned that these statements from Matt Armstrong were shared with the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) who was one of the key sponsors of the bipartisan legislation to reform the BBG. The BBG reform amendment was signed into law by President Obama before he left office. The legislation gives President Trump the authority to nominate a new BBG CEO who would be subject to vetting and confirmation by the U.S. Senate. John Lansing, a former private sector entertainment TV cable network manager, is not a presidential appointee confirmed by the Senate. He was recommended for his BBG position by former BBG Democratic chairman, Hollywood executive Jeff Shell.
Some media outlets such as The Washington Post, Politico and MSNBC have posted reports and commentaries expressing grave concern that President Trump may appoint someone to the BBG who will follow the White House line, but these media outlets have failed to discover and report on truly stunning violations of journalistic balance and ethics at the Voice of America under the current VOA/BBG leadership left over from the Obama administration.