Foreign and Defense Policy

How Not to Do Broadcasting (USG version)

Interesting post from Josh Rogin over at the Cable today. He takes on the Broadcasting Board of Governors—a board that was created nominally to oversee the various broadcasting arms of the USG, but all too quickly became a perch for political cronies of various presidents and poobahs. Worse still, the cronies (not all, mind you, but too many) seemed to think that rather than maintaining the firewall between State and broadcasters to stop the foreign service bureaucracy from interfering in broadcasting, they were actually there to manage content on a daily basis, boss around the surrogate radios like Radio Free Europe, dictate the balance between Britney and news (more Brit, less news), and ensure that no one listens to the Voice of America (except for those who think the Iranian regime is pretty great, apparently). Nothing against some of the governors (some have been friends and former colleagues), but what the hell?

Another thing: There are no conflict-of-interest rules. Governors can have interests before foreign governments that the radios are broadcasting about, they can represent companies doing business in those nations where we are seeking to promote freedom, etc. Why no firewalls there?

And finally there’s the problem of having missing governors. I’m torn, frankly. On the one side, we have four of eight governors, so the characters that Rogin describes in his piece have to stay home. On the other hand, that leaves the permanent bureaucracy in charge to gallivant, boss around, and otherwise manage hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with insufficient oversight. Hmmm. Time to rethink the BBG, methinks.

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