Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe is not endearing himself to his fellow Broadcasting Board of Governors, the bipartisan group that governs what used to be called the Voice of America broadcasting to totalitarian counties.
First Ashe embarrassed them at a live streamed video meeting by pointing out that 40 percent of the agency’s workers are contract and they didn’t get flu shots like regular employees. Ashe said the flu does not discriminate between civil service and contract workers. So the flu shots were extended.
Now Ashe has raised public objection to the closing of a shortwave broadcast station in North Carolina, pointing out it is the last station under the complete control of the U.S. that broadcasts to China. Ashe said other countries, like the Philippines, are discouraging the agency from broadcasting anything negative because they do not want to offend China. Ashe argues the U.S. has to have free rein for the broadcasts.
A blog that covers the BBG called Ashe’s public dissent “unprecedented” by a member since the members, appointed by the president, do not publicly criticize the running of the agency. Ashe has been traveling to various stations and talking with employees and can be expected to continue to be a thorn in the side of his colleagues.
The board, which is required to have Republicans and Democrats as members, is headed by Walter Isaacson, the former editor of Time magazine and CNN. Ashe was appointed to the board as a Republican member after he left his job as U.S. Ambassador to Poland.