Thursday, December 13, 2018

No Wonder the USG Can’t Do Cyber Influence - It Can’t Even Do Radio!

The NY Times National December 13, 2018 print edition ran a below the fold, page 1 article “Troubled Vessel for US Ideals Faces New Tilt”, the same article on line was titled: Troubled by Lapses, Government’s Voice to the World Braces for New Trump Management” (see:, which is also a photo source).

The Voice of America (VOA) mission is “Since its creation in 1942, Voice of America has been committed to providing comprehensive coverage of the news and telling audiences the truth.”

It self describes itself as “Voice of America (VOA) is the largest U.S. international broadcaster, providing news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of more than 275 million people. VOA produces content for digital, television, and radio platforms. It is easily accessed via your mobile phone and on social media. It is also distributed by satellite, cable, FM and MW, and is carried on a network of approximately 2,200 affiliate stations.”

The VOA prides itself as having a firewall that “prohibits interference by U.S. government”.

The Times report not only illustrates some cracks in the all, but a bevy of misconduct that has severely tarnished the VOA’s reputation. In 2013, none other than Hillary Clinton declared that the Board of Governors of the VOA “practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world”. You can hear it for yourself at:, which is also a photo source)

Clearly the task of blending journalism with political messaging is fraught with challenges. The success of journalistic message ultimately rests with their reputation for truth. While there is not doubt that message selection, wording, tone and visuals shape that message, influence efforts are based on truth.

The NY Times and others are more than a little concerned that as the political appointees of President Trump assume their roles, the definition of ‘truth’ will slip far to the right. Michael Pack, the nominee for VOA Board of Governors CEO ‘runs a conservative film making business in his home. You can check out his company and spouse/VP at:

It’s hard enough developing content that appeals to foreign audiences. Content that is liberally (pardon me) laced with clearly self-serving government interest as expressed by Mr. Trump’s desire for “our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT” is doomed to failure before it starts (see:, also a photo source.)

VOA is a proof of concept, albeit a bad one, that the US government (USG) is unable to perform even rudimentary, country focused, radio based influence operations. It’s no wonder that cyber influence remains even more elusive.

1 comment:

Chad Spawr said...

Killer post Larry. Well done.