Column: Can Donald Trump turn Voice of America into his own private megaphone?
Its name sounds like an artifact of the Cold War, but the Voice of America — the international news source funded by the U.S. government — has changed geography and technology. VOA just began a 24-hour Russian-language news channel on several platforms to reach Russian speakers throughout the old Soviet empire — a clear pushback against Russian government-run programming. Yet it’s home-front happenings that have put VOA in the news: first, the 2013 repeal of a law restricting the use of VOA-produced news inside the U.S., and then, toward the end of the Obama administration, a law that pulled the plug on a bipartisan board supervising the Broadcasting Board of Governors and replaced it with a CEO who’s selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate. That’s sounded alarm bells for people who worry that President Trump might want to convert VOA into his own megaphone. John F. Lansing, who’s the head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, told NPR that it would be “illegal” for the administration to tell VOA what to broadcast. And its director, journalist Amanda Bennett, details an operation that is government-funded, but, she says, not government-run.
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