VOICE OF AMERICA - The Reilly Factorgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
The Reilly Factor The Left tries to silence a voice at VOA.
By John J. Miller & Ramesh Ponnuru October 9, 2001 3:20 p.m. President Bush's pick to head Voice of America, Robert Reilly, says he intends to broadcast "accurate, objective, and comprehensive news." His critics don't believe him — and they're trying hard to derail Reilly, whose nomination must pass muster with the federally appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors, which convenes tomorrow.
The controversy over Reilly is a new variation on an old theme: Liberals always beat up on conservatives put in positions to shape global opinion of the United States. Reaganites working at Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty during the 1980s came under their scrutiny. In today's Washington Post, reporter Ellen Nakashima neatly captures the Left's problem with Reilly when she labels him "a practicing Roman Catholic and a defender of, as he calls them, 'the principles of Western civilization.'"
This goes straight to the heart of VOA's mission. When the radio network discusses topics such as the principles of Western civilization, it definitely should avoid sneer quotes. The very purpose of VOA is to project a positive image of the United States to the world. Part of this involves reporting "accurate, objective, and comprehensive news" because freedom of the press is an American value worth promoting in places like Kabul. But running VOA also requires a patriotic self-confidence that parts of the Left seem unable to summon even now.
The phony controversy over Reilly should not be allowed to obscure the importance of revamping our public diplomacy. This includes everything from student-exchange programs to the messages put on the wrappers of food dropped on Afghanistan last night. It also includes VOA.
"We face a real challenge in developing a long-range strategy of how to speak to the Muslim world," says Arch Puddington, a Freedom House vice president and the author of Broadcasting Freedom, a book on the history of Radio Free Europe. "We knew how to speak to the Communist world. We're still not sure how to speak to the Islamic one."
There's little doubt that U.S. public diplomacy could stand improvement. The essential rationale for American involvement in the Balkans, after all, has been saving Muslim lives. This should work to our advantage on the streets of Islamabad — and yet it seems not to matter at all. Do the flag-burners there even know?
The scuffle over Reilly distracts everyone from this larger problem, which Henry Hyde's international relations committee will consider tomorrow in hearings.
-- Anonymous, October 10, 2001