January 27, 2017

Here's a story we missed from Wednesday in all of the hullabaloo about the wall. The Voice of America, previously a diplomatic tool used to broadcast pro-America messages into other countries is now allowed to broadcast inside the United States.

Also, the Voice of America $800 million budget and mission are now in the hands of two young Donald Trump sycophants now, POLITICO reports.

President Donald Trump on Monday dispatched two aides to scope out the studios of Voice of America, heightening concerns among some longtime staffers that Trump may quickly put his stamp on the broadcasting arm that has long pushed U.S. democratic ideals across the world.

The arrival of the two aides – both political operatives from Trump’s campaign – comes after Voice of America received blowback over the weekend for sending out a series of tweets about White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claims about inauguration crowd size that looked to some like an endorsement of his false statements. The news outlet later deleted one of the tweets.

Congress quietly inserted language into a bill in 2013 allowing VoA to broadcast inside the United States. So hello, Trump TV, even if they insist that's not going to be the case. (It will be)

The transcript of Rachel Maddow's explanation is below (via Media Matters), but I'd recommend just watching the report.

RACHEL MADDOW (HOST): Voice of America is a fairly non-controversial -- basically a public diplomacy outlet that is run as part of the U.S. government. Every once in a while there's some minor kerfuffle or news story about the Voice of America but it's now considered to be pretty non-controversial.


The reason it's fairly non-controversial is in part because it mostly broadcasts abroad but it's also because it's been run in a low-key non-partisan way. It's been overseen, for example, by a broadcasting board of governors, sort of a panel of worthy professionals. They're bipartisan appointed by both Republicans and Democrats. The agency's also run as part of the State Department. It's run in a way that's supposed to be insulated from our domestic politics so it can't be used as a partisan tool by anyone in government. That's the way it's supposed to go. But on page 1,404 of the defense bill that was passed by the Republican Congress right after the election, this far into the bill that high, they took the board of governors part out of the equation. Isn't that interesting? So that's no longer who runs this $800 million broadcasting effort, Voice of America. Now instead of being run by a non-partisan sort of insulated board of governors it's now run by a CEO who is appointed by the president and who serves at the pleasure of the president.


And the CEOs office this week at the Voice of America was taken over by two 20-something political operatives from the Trump campaign.


It's one thing for them to call it an "alternative fact" when the White House presents a blatant lie to the American public. It is another thing for them to overtly try to build in a dedicated way with the resources of the federal government an alternative factual universe for their supporters to live in and we count on the political opposition and we count on the free media to sort out lies from truth in this country, particularly when there are lies told by people in power. But these guys really do also now have the opportunity to build their own media in a way that no president has ever been able to do so before. No president has ever been able to use the resources the U.S. government to have broadcasting resources like that at his or her disposal. But they've done it now and they've already installed their people in the corner office.

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