For John, BLUF: Killing the Smith-Mundt Act is like killing the Glass-Steagall Act. Bad will come from it. Nothing to see here; just move along.
May he rest in peace.
NPR look out. The US Congress has unleashed the BBG, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, (Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks). At this point they are just releasing their information into the domestic media mix. The next step will be their own stations on radio and TV.
Here is the background on the long-standing ban on the US Government conducting propaganda actions domestically (from the Foreign Policy Magazine Blog, "The Cable"):
The restriction of these broadcasts was due to the Smith-Mundt Act, a long standing piece of legislation that has been amended numerous times over the years, perhaps most consequentially by Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright. In the 70s, Fulbright was no friend of VOA and Radio Free Europe, and moved to restrict them from domestic distribution, saying they "should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics." Fulbright's amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky who argued that such "propaganda" should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. "from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity."It isn't like the output of the BBG wasn't available in print. But, now it is available on all media.
This is a move in the wrong direction. Democracies should not have the central government generating propaganda for domestic consumption. It sort of works against the First Amendment.
Hat tip to the Instapundit.
Regards — Cliff