BBG Watch Commentary on USAGM

A picture that’s worth a thousand words.

The photo, sent to BBG Watch by U.S. government-employed journalists, shows Voice of America (VOA) Director Amanda Bennett holding an umbrella with large USAGM letters.

Sources tells that it was a poster displayed at the Voice of America headquarters in Washington, D.C. when the VOA’s parent U.S. federal agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), headed by Obama administration holdover CEO and Director John F. Lansing, celebrated last week the change of its name to the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

John Lansing had selected Amanda Bennett for the VOA director’s position in 2016. They have not yet been replaced by the Trump administration although Michael Pack has been nominated to be the new BBG (now USAGM) CEO and Director. His nomination has not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He has prior U.S. government experience in U.S. public diplomacy as a former director of the United States Information Agency’s (USIA) Worldnet Television. Neither Lansing nor Bennett has had prior public diplomacy or government service experience.

One former VOA journalist wrote:

“The most embarrassing thing I have seen emerge in, and from, the agency in decades

Looks amateurish, desperate, silly…

Can you imagine the guffaws among the people at the BBC, when they saw this?”

According to an independent study commissioned by the agency led by Lansing and Bennett, the Voice of America’s and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Radio Farda’s coverage of Iran has been systemically biased. RFE/RL has been part of the BBG (now USAGM).

An earlier BBG statement that the independent study “did not find any systematic bias in VOA and RFE/RL content.”

In fact, the American Foreign Policy Council (AFCP) U.S. Persian Media Study concluded:

“This dynamic, on the whole, perpetuated to audiences the appearance of pro-regime propaganda, rather than objective reporting, on the part of both the VOA and Farda.”



Final Synthesis Report

October 6, 2017