The Voice of Red America


Ken Tomlinson's tenure atop the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has received a lot of public attention. His simultaneous reign at the Broadcasting Board of Governors—the arm of the government that runs the Voice of America, Radio Sawa, Radio Marti, etc.—has not. Writing in The New Republic, Franklin Foer points out some parallels:

He has deployed a similar set of tactics: purging the bureaucracy of political enemies, zealously rooting out perceived "liberal bias," and generally politicizing institutions that have resisted ideological intrusions for decades. One of Tomlinson's fellow broadcasting governors told me, "In every story about the CPB, you could substitute BBG."

For the record, I'm not so sure that these outfits have "resisted ideological intrusions for decades." To take the most obvious example, Radio Marti wouldn't even exist if the U.S. weren't ideologically opposed to Fidel Castro, and its broadcasts have frequently reflected that fact. What Tomlinson has brought to the agency, by Foer's account, is something more insidious, or at least more vacuous: an infection of party politics. The Voice of America "exists to make America's case to the world," he writes, but lately "has focused far more intently on burnishing the image of the Bush administration and the Republican Party."