Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

John Lansing, now CEO of National Public Radio (NPR), talked about the operations of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency that oversees United States government-supported, civilian international news media such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Marti, and Alhurra. He explained how he planned to reshape U.S. media operations to better fit the current media environment, including how to address propaganda by countries such as Russia and China and stateless actors suc

John Lansing, now CEO of National Public Radio (NPR), talked about the operations of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency that oversees United States government-supported, civilian international news media such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Marti, and Alhurra. He explained how he planned to reshape U.S. media operations to better fit the current media environment, including how to address propaganda by countries such as Russia and China and stateless actors such as ISIL. (C-SPAN January 6, 2016)

From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing's Glass House

Laura Flanders

I don’t know about you, but I take a teeny weeny bit of offense when a guy in a glass house lobs a great big stone and expects me not to notice the sound of shattering.

Which brings me to National Public Radio. When the ubiquitous news and public affairs network announced the appointment of a new CEO, it noted that John Lansing made his mark in his current job with “stirring defenses of journalism, free from government interference.”

This had me picking through the shards when they went on to explain that Lansing comes to NPR from the United States Agency for Global Media, a federally-funded organization whose express mission is to interfere in journalism by doing it, in such as way as to promote American policy values all across the world.

NPR’s new CEO story came with a picture of Lansing in his capacity as CEO of USAGM, testifying in Congress about the scourge of Russian media meddling. “The Russian government and other authoritarian regimes engage in far-reaching, malign influence campaigns,” he said.

The high dudgeon ill-suited a man who, as he spoke, oversaw an empire of federally-funded influence campaigns with origins in Cold War US psy-ops: The Voice of America, Radio y Televisión Martí, and Radio Free Europe, as well as Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Radio Persia. According to Yasha Levine at Pando, when Lansing took the reins of this holding company, which was then called the Broadcasting Board of Governors, it had a budget of $721 million, reported directly to the Secretary of State, and was managed by a revolving crew of neocon and military think tank experts, including Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

Recently, Lansing has been under criticism after scandals involving fake news and fleecing at Radio Martí—scandals he says he took action on. But it’s not the scandals, it’s the routine at the US media agency that makes Lansing’s stone-throwing so obnoxious. The propaganda past in Latin America, Cuba, Africa, and Cold War Europe is clear. In the Obama/Clinton years, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe actively ginned up support for war against Putin’s Russia. Now, as the Intercept reported just last month, VOA Persia has become a Trump channel to vilify Iran.

Lansing’s not the first NPR director to come from VOA. Nor is he, of course, the first stale, pale male heading up an organization that claims it wants to move into the 21st Century. But jeez. The hypocrisy is hard to take. What next? A Morning Edition report on kettles being black?


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including "Bushwomen: How They Won the White House for Their Man" (2005). She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media, and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Revealing New Evidence in Abu Akleh's Killing, Al Jazeera Sues Israeli Forces at ICC

The news network said the journalist's killing was part of a "wider attack on Al Jazeera, and journalists in Palestine."

Julia Conley ·


Fears of Escalation as Ukraine Answers Russian Missile Onslaught With Strike Deep Inside Invader's Territory

Ukrainian drones bombed two air bases more than 300 miles inside Russia, reportedly killing three soldiers, wounding four others, and damaging multiple warplanes.

Brett Wilkins ·


Patient Groups Push Congress to Combat Big Pharma Greed in Spending Bill

"As Congress works toward finalizing an end-of-year budget package, we urge the chambers to include bipartisan legislation to address abuse of the Food and Drug Administration's citizen petition process in order to reduce drug prices and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars."

Brett Wilkins ·


10,000+ Sign Open Letter Demanding Biden Order Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers

"No one, especially in the world's richest nation, should have to choose between forgoing pay or working through severe illness and family emergencies," says The Lever's letter.

Jessica Corbett ·


Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Signals Support for Anti-LGBTQ+ Reactionaries

"It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes 'reeducation training' on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules," said one court observer.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo