For Immediate Release
January 27, 2015
CUSIB Sees RT Criticism of BBG CEO Andy Lack as a Ploy
In the interview with The New York Times, Mr. Andy Lack was asked generally about the tasks he faces as the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) new Director and CEO. He discussed the need to refocus the BBG in view of international rivals such as China and Russia in the high-stakes information war. In this context, he discussed challenges of the BBG fulfilling its mission in view of diverse entities like Russia’s RT, the Islamic State in the Middle East and Boko Haram. RT, in response, feigned indignity of being equated with ISIS and Boko Haram even though no comparison was made.
This was not a news story. It was a parsing of Andy Lack’s words, and playing semantics with them. If RT wanted to debate the claim that it acts as a propaganda arm for President Putin, maybe there should instead be a serious discussion about the tenor of its coverage of Syria, Crimea and Ukraine. Instead, RT chose to line up folks to ask if RT is comparable to two terrorist groups.
The goal of this ploy seems to be to discredit Andy Lack’s plans to reform the BBG. We have met with Andy Lack and he could be very good for the federal agency in charge of U.S. international media outreach. We think he deserves our support. We appeal to Congress to continue its bipartisan push for reforming the BBG and for more funding for its critical mission once reforms are undertaken.
We also note two official U.S. comments about RT. Last April, Secretary of State John Kerry called RT a “propaganda bullhorn…deployed to promote President Putin’s fantasy.”
Richard Stengel, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and a former managing editor of TIME magazine, wrote last April that “RT is a distortion machine, not a news organization.”
“…when propaganda poses as news it creates real dangers and gives a green light to violence,” Under Secretary Stengel pointed out.
Also worth noting is the on-the-air resignation in March 2014 of RT TV anchor Liz Wahl who said she could no longer be “part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin.”
For further information, please contact:
Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Ted Lipien, co-founder and Director
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) is an independent, nongovernmental organization which supports free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries without free media.