And why would we want to? Prior to the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, Somalis in Somalia could watch and listen to BBG-produced shows critically discussing Somalia's Al Shabab terrorist group, but when Somali-American radio stations wanted permission to re-broadcast the same shows in Minneapolis, the official answer had to be: "Sorry, no, you can't do that. If you want to access this programming, you need to submit a Freedom of Information Act request, or get a Somali friend to record it for you -- but you still can't rebroadcast it." In other words, Somali-Americans could access al Qaeda's Inspire magazine with ease (or, as John Hudson's piece notes, Al Shabab news or Russia Today), but they had to jump through multiple hoops to listen to Voice of America.
Here's the thing. The U.S. government isn't perfect -- far from it. It's big. It's clumsy. The left hand sometimes doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Sometimes, the government screws up. Sometimes, it even hires or contracts with people who turn out to be idiots or crooks. But it's not a vast, sinister conspiracy. It's just not.
On the whole, it's full of decent people, both civilian and military, trying hard to serve the country, abide by the law, and exercise responsible stewardship over the taxpayer funds entrusted to the government.
The BBG is very much in that tradition. By and large, the BBG produces serious, responsible journalism, and if a little more of that journalism makes it into the United States, we'll all get a little smarter.
Here are some recent examples of BBG programming:
- An expose on police corruption in Azerbaijan.
- Coverage of the assassination of an environmental activist in Cambodia.
- A series on human rights defenders in Belarus.
- Coverage of the "Pussy Riot" trial in Russia.
- Reporting on Chinese government restrictions against Muslim worship in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
- Programs on the impact of the Syrian civil war on women and refugees.
- Coverage of displaced people in Darfur and refugees in Chad.
- A show called Street Pulse, covering Egyptian social and cultural issues.
- A show that lets Pakistani viewers pose questions directly to U.S. experts and policymakers -- and get on-air responses.
If that's propaganda, I'll take it.
And hey, if you don't like the BBG? You can always go back to your little corner of cable news or the Internet -- whether it's on the far right or the far left -- and cuddle up with your like-minded friends.
I promise, the truth will never, ever find you there.