Radio Putin: RFE/RL leadership continues to wreck a vital US asset

If the KGB had infiltrated and taken over the management of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, how would RFE/RL President Steven Korn and his acolyte Julia Ragona act any differently?

By wrecking RFE/RL, and especially Radio Liberty, Korn and Ragona have subverted not only the mission of the radios, but ruined their very capability of recovering from the damage – to say nothing of the harm they have done to the radios’ decades-long reputations.

The dedicated people at BBG Watch, which is monitoring the Broadcasting Board of Governors that runs the radios, are keeping tabs on things for the rest of us, with an inside perspective that can’t be matched. I urge everyone to bookmark the site and subscribe to its feeds.

Today’s BBG Watch feature shows the value of the site’s reporting. Devoted since its founding to fight censorship, RL is now censoring itself at the Kremlin’s bidding. A retired senior RFE/RL Russian service editor writes:

“In an almost unprecedented move for a U.S.-funded broadcaster whose mission is to fight censorship, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty censored its own-generated program material that was critical of RFE/RL president Steven Korn and his deputy Julia Ragona. RFE/RL cut and removed from its website parts of a video from a discussion about Radio Liberty’s future.

“Never since the Russian Service established its Internet-site opened to comments and questions from the audience was the site flooded by such a large number of negative statements about RFE/RL’s top management. Statements and remarks were attracted by the video depicting the roundtable discussion held by RFE/RL in Moscow on October 29. The roundtable was attended by RFE/RL president Steven Korn, his vice president Julia Ragona, both arrived from Prague, and by the new, Moscow-based director of the Russian Service, Masha Gessen.

“The event was intended to justify to the group of invited Russian human rights activists and democratic politician the restructuring of the Russian Service accompanied by mass firings of journalists, Internet editors, video reporters and other media professionals in its Moscow bureau that has created a media uproar in Russia because of a brutal way in which it was conducted and because it was seen as a capitulation to the Kremlin and a destruction of Radio Liberty’s reputation and traditional mission.”

This can’t go on. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is dysfunctional at best. Nobody seems to be taking responsibility for the damage. Congress isn’t exercising its oversight authority. It would be a great thing, during the post-election recess, for one or two members of a House panel with responsibility for the BBG to launch a full-scale investigation, with subpoenas and public grillings of a style that Rep. Henry Waxman made famous. Why are the Republicans so weak in comparison to the kill-’em-all types like Waxman?


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