Senator Coburn: "The BBG is the most worthless organization in the federal government."

Posted: 30 Apr 2010   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, The Cable, 30 Apr 2010, Josh Rogin: "The Obama administration's eight nominees for the Broadcasting Board of Governors aren't getting waived through any time soon. Republican senators are seeking to use their appointments as an opportunity to shed light on problems they see at the organization. 'The BBG is the most worthless organization in the federal government,' Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, told The Cable in an interview. 'It's full of people who know nothing about media or foreign policy. All they are doing is spending money and somebody's got to look into it.' ... The board should have eight full time governors, but there are only four at the present time (in addition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who serves in an ex-officio capacity) and the eight new nominees are all being held up by Coburn, who wants to meet with each of them individually before he will allow their nominations to go forward. ... Our sources say that senators like DeMint and Coburn are fed up with the lack of congressional oversight of the BBG and also with the well-established custom of doling out the board's positions to political types like Meehan and Perino, who in Coburn's view don't have the experience or expertise to sit atop an organization crucial to America's international diplomacy." A weekly audience of 171 million is pretty good for "worthless." Meanwhile, there seems to be the usual confusion on the part of decision makers, commentators, and senior fellows about whether US international broadcasting should be broadcasting news or messages in support of US policies. Arguments for the former are in my New York Times op-ed pieces on 4 June 2007 and 16 November 2002. See previous post about same subject.
   The American (American Enterprise Institute), 30 Apr 2010, Danielle Pletka: "[T]he 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). ... Time to rethink the BBG, methinks." -- I hope shethinks also about USIB without a board to provide a firewall, as discussed in previous post.
   St. Petersburg Times, The Feed, 28 Apr 2010, Eric Deggans: Outgoing CEO of Tampa PBS station WEDU-Ch. 3, Richard Lobo, "is awaiting confirmation for the U.S. Senate for an appointment to lead the International Broadcasting Bureau -- the government department which runs Voice of America and the broadcast outlets aimed at Cuba, Radio and TV Marti. ... Even before his [nomination] by the Obama administration, Lobo had announced his plans to leave WEDU after nearly eight years as CEO. Now age 73, the Ybor City native had come out of retirement to take the reins at WEDU, having spent the first 40 years of his work life at commercial network TV affiliates; when he took over as president in June 2002, the station had implemented $2 million in budget cuts and laid off one-third its staff. Since then, Lobo notched some important achievements -- helping WEDU find new funding sources, create new local shows and completing a $15 million conversion to digital broadcasting. But the station also faced more substantial cuts, shaving $500,000 from its budget in 2008, freezing salaries, instituting some pay cuts and laying off staff." See previous post about Mr. Lobo.