The headlines sound downright scary.
Donald Trump could be getting “an unfettered propaganda arm.” He might finally have his own “Trump TV.” He could install a right-wing ideologue at taxpayer expense.
Pretty chilling stuff -- except for the fact that the media operation in question is backed by the Obama administration and the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The episode provides a stark example of the media’s double standard when it comes to Trump, in which something barely treated as news mushrooms into a calamity because he, rather than Hillary Clinton, will be sitting in the Oval Office.
The focus of this heated coverage is a congressional amendment to abolish the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other government communications agencies.
In the wake of a bipartisan consensus that the board is ineffective and sometimes incompetent, Congress recently voted to replace it with a single chief executive now appointed by the president. Obama is expected to sign a defense authorization bill that includes the amendment as early as today.
Ed Royce, the California Republican who chairs the Foreign Affairs panel, dismissed what he called the media “spin.” In an interview, he told me: “It’s hysteria. It’s a smokescreen that some have put up. This has nothing to do with the incoming president of the United States. This has nothing to do with Donald Trump.”
Royce announced the legislation last year with support from the committee’s top Democrat, Eliot Engel of New York, who said he was “proud” to join the effort to “to breathe new life into American international broadcasting by modernizing and streamlining the BBG.” They had proposed a similar measure in 2014.
President Obama’s handpicked chairman of the governors’ board, Jeff Shell, who is also an NBC film executive, agreed the changes were long overdue. And no one much cared. Clinton has also criticized the board of governors.
But now that Trump will be appointing the chief executive, Politico quoted an unnamed government official as warning that eliminating the board “will make it susceptible to the influence of Trump’s allies, including Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart News.” It was Politico that said this could turn into “Trump TV,” a “propaganda arm” of the White House.
A Washington Post editorial said the new president “will be able to install the editor of Breitbart News or another propagandist of his choice to direct how the United States is presented to the world.” There is only the “hope” that Trump picks someone committed to independent journalism “rather than a political loyalist or alt-right ideologue,” the paper said.
Remember this bitches?