The government-created Voice of America first hit the airwaves in 1942, designed to ensure that the citizens of a world engulfed in its second world war had a source of news that was something other than Nazi propaganda. As it was codified later in a charter signed in 1976, the intent was not to fight propaganda with propaganda, but to gain legitimacy and credibility by serving as a legitimate source of news.
The charter calls for its news to be “accurate, objective and comprehensive” and clarified that it would “represent America” rather than “any single segment of American society.”
To ensure that would happen, Voice of America and its affiliate networks have been run the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent federal agency comprised of a group of bipartisan board members. While the board members are appointed by the president, the work of the BBG “serves as a firewall between U.S. government policymakers and the journalists.”
But in the likely scenario that President Obama signs the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that was passed by Congress, the BBG will be no longer, replaced by one presidentially-appointed CEO, according to a provision in the bill first reported by Politico.
What this could mean in real terms, according to Politico’s Tara Palmeri, is that “Trump is finally getting his Trump TV — financed by taxpayers to the tune of $800 million per year.”
As board member Michael Kempner explained to Palmeri, “Congress unwittingly just gave President-elect Trump unchecked control of all U.S. media outlets. No president, either Democrat or Republican, should have that kind of control. It’s a public jewel. It’s independence is what makes it so credible.”
And considering the fact that Trump named Steve Bannon a special advisor, it’s certainly well within the realm of plausibility that the former head of what Bannon himself once described as a “platform for the alt-right,” or white nationalism in other words, could advise Trump right into appointing a CEO in that mold.