Left Flips Out at Prospect of Trump Propaganda Arm as Powerful as The Kremlin's--Thanks to the NDAA

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Getty - Mikhail Svetlov/Drew Angerer
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If you were unaware that the United States has a Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose job is to keep partisan agendas from creeping into taxpayer-funded international media outlets, you probably aren't alone.

But, the BBG does exist, and it currently oversees non-military media outlets such Voice of America, RadioFree Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

The BBG underwent a structural change a few years ago; a “CEO” position was created for the board, but the post had little power in determining the handling of business and managing of funds for the BBG. That is about to change.

Tucked into the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a provision that will “permanently establish the Chief Executive Officer position as head of the BBG...while removing the nine-member bipartisan Board that currently heads the agency,” according to an article at Broadcasting & Cable.

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The change appears to stem, at least in part, from a request to Congress in 2015 by the BBG board Chair, Jeff Shell, and current CEO, John Lansing, to grant the current CEO position more autonomy in running and funding operations. At the time, Shell said:

“First, and foremost, we need the Congress to fully enshrine the CEO as the operational lead at BBG.”

Lansing concurred, going on to say:

“We need to enshrine a Chief Executive Officer position at the BBG who is empowered to manage all BBG operations and functions, including the ability to shift resources as needed and appoint senior officials.”

It looks like they are getting their wish. And the Obama administration-supported shift in power at the BBG is cause for editorial-worthy panic at The Washington Post.

Building on media fervor and breathless headlines about Russian interference in U.S. elections, the Post hints that the change at BBG could bring about a state media conglomerate worthy of praise by Putin.

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The Post's editorial board goes on to imagine President-elect Trump's choice to fill the BBG's Chief Executive Office position:

With a confirming vote by the GOP-controlled Senate, President-elect Donald Trump will be able to install the editor of Breitbart News or another propagandist of his choice to direct how the United States is presented to the world by VOA, or how Russia is covered by RL. If Congress’s intention was for U.S. broadcasting to rival the Kremlin’s, it may well get its wish.

They worry that the new, power-hungry CEO of the BBG will install a panel of yes men:

The new reform, driven by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.), enhances that executive’s power and makes him answerable to the White House rather than the bipartisan board. A new advisory panel will be created, but it will be toothless: Its members will also be nominated by the president from a pool provided by Congress.

Steve Pope/Getty Images

And fret about the damage to the United States' global image under a Trump appointment:

Either way, there is likely to be an exodus of seasoned professionals from the surrogate broadcasters as well as VOA — meaning that U.S. international broadcasting, whatever its current deficiencies, is likely to get worse.

No one tell the Post that the BBG will also be a part of supporting another provision in the NDAA: the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act.

View Comments(3 comments)
Dan RobinsonThis is an edited version of a comment posted on the RTNDA site.   Excuse those of us who know better, but language in the 2017 NDAA was not somehow inserted by Trump operatives. Media have known (or should have) full well that US government-funded media have been mismamaged for decades. This is particularly true of VOA, which if course has its permanent corps of defenders.    Legislation to restructure BBG was passed at one point, in the House, and had bipartisan support, though it was blocked from a vote in the Senate -- a result of direct lobbying of Congress by agency officials. So, there's just a bit of hypocrisy involved when suddenly everyone -- Wash Post, Politico, and others - begin crying about how critical this broken agency, which costs Americans $750 million plus a year, is to national security by way of its journalistic mission.   Those who know better also know that to assert that this agency is not, and has not been, "colored by the political administration of the day" is absurd, and just naive. It's time to take down this canard permanently.  Anyone who thinks that policy priorities of an administration do not filter down and impact programming -- see the issue of the creation of the "Extremism Watch Desk" and its material now seen prominently on the VOA website -- is just locked in dreamland.  That's just one example, the tip of the iceberg, of many over the decades that demonstrate that these organizations ultimtely are not somehow taxpayer-funded versions of CNN, but are parcel of the U.S. foreign policy/national security structure.  The more significant language in the NDAA, as noted by the author, about creation of a new Global Engagement Center, highlights the reality that the BBG (and the future International Broadcasting Advisory Board) will be even more engaged in efforts to counter extremism, and counter foreign disinformation, with the involvement of the Secretary of State, Department of Defense and the NSC. 
John SmithbwahahahahahahahahahahahaFukc the ankle grabbers!  Times a changing mother fukcers!  Get used to it!
John Smithevery ankle grabbing obama blowing cheek spreader in this agency should be immmediately fired!  I would prefer they be charged with crimes against humanity for lying about climate change for the past 15 yrs or so but that will never happen so just fire them and I will pray that they and their offspring fukcing starve to death!