BBG Watch Commentary

Former National Security Advisor Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski with Voice of America Polish Service director Ted Lipien deputy director Marek Walicki after one of Worldnet – VOA – Polish TV and Radio programs in the late 1980s.

One of the major American planners of the Cold War victory over the Soviet Union, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was only given a brief, five paragraph AP report on the Voice of America (VOA) English-language website after the news of his death was announced Friday. VOA later posted a somewhat longer AP report at about 1:30 AM ET Saturday, but the U.S. taxpayer-funded and poorly managed multimedia broadcaster was still unable to produce its own original report about a major American figure of the Cold War and post-Cold War period. VOA Russian Service’s report on Dr. Brzezinski was also very brief.

Russia’s RT, on the other hand, immediately posted a full, detailed although somewhat biased obituary of the American scholar and statesman who was President Carter’s National Security Advisor. Dr. Brzezinski was also an adviser to John F. Kennedy and served in the Johnson administration. The long, fourteen-paragraph RT report included a number of tweets and a reference to a statement from former President Carter.

As of late Friday night, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) had nothing on its English-language news website on Dr. Brzezinski’s death. RFE/RL finally posted a brief report in English early Saturday morning. We could not find a news item on Dr. Brzezinski’s death early Saturday morning on Radio Liberty’s Russian Service website. Both VOA and RFE/RL are overseen by the dysfunctional Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) which is still headed by an Obama administration holdover official. The bloated BBG bureaucracy has been slashing programs and programming job.

Dr. Brzezinski, who as a young scholar had conducted research at Radio Free Europe, was a strong supporter of U.S. broadcasting to the Soviet Union, East Central Europe and other countries ruled by communist regimes. As President Carter’s National Security Advisor, he intervened when the Voice of America tried to censor a news report about Stalin’s responsibility for the 1940 execution of thousands of imprisoned Polish military officers in the Soviet Union known as the Katyn Forest massacre.

The fact that Russia’s propaganda channel had a full obituary ready on Dr. Brzezinski and was able to post it quickly while the Voice of America had to rely on AP and initially posted only a brief report with almost no historical references to his major role as a planner of the Cold War victory over the Soviet Union is truly disturbing and unfortunate.

Dr. Brzezinski was frequently interviewed by VOA, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. VOA’s Polish Service often reached out to him with requests for commentaries on major U.S. and international news developments. Polish-born Dr. Brzezinski was a fluent Polish speaker.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Dr. Brzezinski participated in a number of radio and television programs conducted jointly by VOA’s Polish Service and Polish State Radio and TV. He was interviewed by VOA’s Polish Service in Polish and English on the day of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

In 2010, Dr. Brzezinski delivered a eulogy at the funeral of the legendary former Polish Service broadcaster Zofia Korbonska.