BBG Watch Media Report and Commentary

A local American newspaper has posted a profile of radio and television broadcaster Blanquita Walsh Cullum who had served as one of the presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). She was a Republican Governor on the bipartisan Board. The agency is now called the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). The role of the BBG Board has been limited by new legislation, but USAGM still oversees such tax-funded media entities serving foreign audiences as the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

The agency has been dysfunctional for many years, with mismanagement increasing after the departure of such reform-minded BBG Board members as Blanquita Cullum and Ambassador Victor H. Ashe. They had spearheaded reforms and solved some of the worst problems despite bureaucratic resistance. They had worked well with some of the Democratic BBG Board members, including Michael Meehan and Susan McCue. But after their BBG Board terms had ended, mismanagement returned under the entrenched bureaucracy. Employee morale has been at record-low levels in recent years. Blanquita Cullum’s departure in 2010, made it more difficult for other BBG Board members to push for reforms. In 2011, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the BBG “practically defunct.”

Both Republicans and Democrats have been calling for the agency’s management to be reformed, but recent scandals, including the devastating independent study by American Foreign Policy Council that showed extreme bias in VOA and RFE/RL’s Radio Farda media outreach to Iran, point to a continuing management failure. The current top leadership, appointed during the Obama administration, lacks experience in running a federal agency.

The agency could again benefit if new reform-minded leaders like Blanquita Cullum, Victor Ashe, Michael Meehan and Susan McCue would be appointed to executive positions to shake up the entrenched failed bureaucracy. Blanquita Cullum has been one of the strongest defenders of the VOA Charter, a 1976 law that is designed to protect the Voice of America from bias and partisanship.


Tuning in to BQ Cullum — the Voice of America

Wilson County News
By Elaine Kolodziej
“Blanquita’s career is filled with accolades. Despite being a woman, Hispanic, and a talkshow host, she received unanimous Senate confirmation to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
As a governor, she directed Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio TV Marti (Cuba), Middle East Broadcast Network, and Radio Free Europe.”