It’s Long Past Time for Leadership Change at U.S. Agency for Global Media

COMMENTARY Global Politics

It’s Long Past Time for Leadership Change at U.S. Agency for Global Media

Feb 1st, 2019 2 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Helle C. Dale

Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy

Her current work focuses on the U.S. government’s institutions and programs for strategic outreach to the public of foreign countries.
Much of the broadcasting paid for by U.S. taxpayers resembles that of CNN more than anything else, both in its story selection and its anti-Trump bias. Thatree Thitivongvaroon/Getty Images

Key Takeaways

After two years of stalling, it’s time for the Trump administration to get its own leadership in place at the U.S. government’s global media complex.

The nomination of filmmaker Michael Pack to be the agency’s chief executive officer was resubmitted last month to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The U.S. Agency for Global Media is the government’s primary public diplomacy tool and is funded to the tune of $685 million by U.S. taxpayers.

After two years of stalling, it’s time for the Trump administration to get its own leadership in place at the U.S. government’s global media complex.

After a few cliffhanging and nail-biting developments in late 2018, the Senate is positioned to move forward with the nomination for the top job at the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

The nomination of filmmaker Michael Pack to be the agency’s chief executive officer was resubmitted last month to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The job as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media requires broadcasting experience, understanding of U.S. global media and their mission, and executive skills.

Pack has ample qualifications for the job. He is a former U.S. Information Agency Worldnet executive and a maker of documentary movies, broadcast primarily by PBS.

Pack was until recently president of the Claremont Institute, a leading public policy organization dedicated to the principles of the American founding. He would bring all those assets to the job.

In the CEO position, Pack would replace John F. Lansing, formerly of Scripps Networks, an Obama-era appointee, who has been running the U.S. Agency for Global Media (previously called the Broadcasting Board of Governors) since 2015. 

In a last-ditch effort to save the jobs of Obama-era broadcasting officials late last year, Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who has since left office, and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., introduced a legislative measure to gut the position of CEO of its power to hire and fire staff.

The legislation would protect—among others—Amanda Bennett, director of Voice of America, whose job would be endangered by a change of leadership. Several outraged Republican senators placed holds on the legislation, which died when the 115thh Congress adjourned.

Though foiled, this legislative maneuver showed the importance of getting President Donald Trump’s own appointee in place without further delay.

The U.S. Agency for Global Media is the government’s primary public diplomacy tool and is funded to the tune of $685 million by U.S. taxpayers. It dwarfs any other expenditure by the government on international outreach, including educational and cultural exchanges, embassy outreach, and American centers at foreign universities. 

In the hands of left-leaning producers and directors, much of the broadcasting paid for by U.S. taxpayers resembles that of CNN more than anything else, both in its story selection and its anti-Trump bias.

Additionally, a number of scandals have erupted in recent years, calling into question management and professionalism. One example was the report in December by the House Foreign Affairs Committee detailing abuses by broadcasting staff in political postings on their social media pages.

The sooner the Trump administration can get its own leadership in place, the sooner the U.S. Agency for Global Media can become the asset for U.S. global leadership that it was always intended to be. 

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal