This is getting a lot of attention mainly from people who aren’t familiar with Voice of America or any of the other “Free” broadcasting networks.
As Foreign Policy’s John Hudson explains, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 went into effect July 2, and allows government-made news like Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks to reach Americans.
Broadcasting Board of Governors spokeswoman Lynne Weil said it’s actually best for taxpayers to be able to see the propaganda, so they can serve as a check on it. “Now Americans will be able to know more about what they are paying for with their tax dollars–greater transparency is a win-win for all involved,” she said.
The VOA isn’t remotely in the same league as RT or PressTV or Xinhua. It’s not propaganda. It’s generic mainstream media news that’s hard to tell apart from CNN or NPR or the New York Times. It’s not particularly pro-American. It’s basically the same stuff as for-profit companies make which is why it’s really redundant.
While broadcasting news that comes from the government is not a good precedent, these days it’s really hard to see the difference between that and the mainstream media. It’s not as if we have much of an independent media anyway so it’s hard to get agitated over the government version of CNN or CBS getting some airtime. Especially when Al Jazeera has its own cable news channel.
As long as there’s a Democrat in the White House, every major American for-profit news channel, except for FOX, will shamelessly take the government line, run government talking points and defend the government position on everything. So as a former head of the State Department once asked, “What difference does it make anyway?”
A former U.S. government source with knowledge of the BBG says the organization is no Pravda, but it does advance U.S. interests in more subtle ways. In Somalia, for instance, VOA serves as counterprogramming to outlets peddling anti-American or jihadist sentiment. “Somalis have three options for news,” the source said, “word of mouth, al-Shabab, or VOA Somalia.”
This partially explains the push to allow BBG broadcasts on local radio stations in the United States. The agency wants to reach diaspora communities, such as St. Paul, Minnesota’s significant Somali expat community. “Those people can get al-Shabab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn’t get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VOA Somalia,” the source said. “It was silly.”
So America has imported large pro-terrorist minority groups who need to be targeted with the kind of broadcasts we would have once sent abroad.
That says it all. And it’s a much bigger problem too.