Thursday, May 01, 2014

Who is winning the New Propaganda war of words?

So who is winning the war of words between the US and Russia? It looks to me as though Russia Today (RT) is being more successful on social media sites than the US government Voice of America.

During a press conference at the State Department back on Thursday April 24th, US Secretary of State John Kerry attacked the Russian state-funded current events network RT, which he called a “propaganda bullhorn.”

Kerry attacked Russian leaders for failing to call on pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine to stand down and evacuate government buildings they occupy. “In fact, the propaganda bullhorn that is the state-sponsored RT program has been deployed to promote – actually, RT network – has been deployed to promote President [Vladimir] Putin’s fantasy about what is playing out on the ground,” Kerry said.  “They almost spend full-time devoted to this effort, to propagandize and distort what is happening, or not happening, in Ukraine.” Kerry continued. He then makes a strange statement immediately afterwards that the truth is out there in social media. Really?



Ironically, finding that quote is the easiest by searching RT footage at archive,org. The Internet Archive indexes Russia Today, CNN, BBC and around 70 other channels. But Voice of America isn't one of them.




The US State Department is not playing a clever game with Russia Today, visbly refusing to take RT questions instead of robustly defending the statements,



Meanwhile, elsewhere in Washington DC, may be the reason why the US State department isn't saying too much about its own international broadcasting services is because it all seems to be in a hideous muddle.

On April 30th, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed bipartisan reform legislation to improve the missions, objectives, and effectiveness of U.S. international broadcasters, such as the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN).

H.R. 4490, the United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014, was introduced this week by Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) following their visit last week to Ukraine.



(love the twitter hashtag)

Royce said: “Last week’s visit to Ukraine underscored the need to reform U.S. international broadcasting. The Russian propaganda machine is now in overdrive in its attempts to undermine regional stability. U.S. broadcasters are competing with a hand tied behind their back. That’s because the bureaucratic structure over the top of these radios – the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG – is broken. So while our enemies are working 24/7 on their public information campaigns, the organization at the helm of ours meets once a month. That’s a recipe for failure. This legislation makes dramatic reforms to the current organization to be more effective and efficiently use our finite resources.”

The legislation:
  • · Fixes Well-documented Management Problems. Currently, five U.S. international broadcasting entities report to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (“BBG”), a group of 9 part-time individuals, who meet once a month to make management decisions. Important decisions can languish if the Board does not have a quorum, which is often the case. This legislation would establish a full-time, day-to-day agency head and reduce the role of the Board to a more appropriate advisory capacity. These changes have been recommended by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General and are widely recognized as needed reforms.

  • · Clarifies the Mission of the Voice of America (VOA). The VOA charter states that VOA will provide a “clear and effective presentation of the policies of the United States.” Over time, VOA has abandoned this mission and adopted a mission of the so-called “surrogates” to provide uncensored local news and information to people in closed societies. This legislation makes clear that the Voice of America mission is to support U.S. public diplomacy efforts.

  • · Consolidates “the Freedom Broadcasters.” Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN) have the same mission – to provide uncensored local news and information to people in closed societies – with different geographic reach. Consolidating these organizations into a single, non-federal organization will achieve cost savings, allow for closer collaboration, and improve responsiveness. While the consolidation would mean shared administrative staff and other economies of scale, they would retain their distinct “brand names.”

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