Former Broadcasting Board of Governors member Blanquita Cullum blames current board and senior staff for stifling free speech in Russia
In an op-ed in The Washington Times, a former Republican BBG member, talk radio personality Blanquita Cullum, strongly condemned the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the agency’s permanent executive staff — the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), which includes senior BBG advisors — for “betray[ing] its mission to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”
Blanquita Cullum commented on the mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists in Moscow:
“Last month, staff members at Radio Liberty’s Moscow bureau were sacked unceremoniously. The move was a crucial blow to the integrity of a free press, and those fired were some of the most respected reporters on the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty staff. Silencing them via the actions of senior agency officials was a tremendous victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government and its restriction of free speech. Not surprisingly, a number of widely respected Radio Liberty journalists resigned in protest.”
“Threats, coercion and intimidation have been used against employees who dare to challenge its actions and conduct. Those Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty-IBB officials don’t have a leg to stand on,” the former BBG member wrote. Blanquita Cullum called for firing the BBG’s International Broadcasting Bureau staffers who may have been responsible for the mass dismissal of “some of the most respected reporters on the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty staff.”
“Silencing them via the actions of senior agency officials was a tremendous victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government and its restriction of free speech. Not surprisingly, a number of widely respected Radio Liberty journalists resigned in protest,” Blanquita Cullum wrote.
Read more: CULLUM: Stifling free speech abroad – Washington Times.
Blanquita Walsh Cullum was named to the board in 2002 by President George W. Bush and served until 2010. She came to the board as a radio broadcaster whose nationally syndicated programs BQ View and Newsbeat were carried coast-to-coast by the Radio America Network. She was the founder of the Young American Broadcasters Program, a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating the next generation of print and broadcast journalists. Ms. Cullum began her broadcasting career in San Antonio, Texas, where she worked for KENS-TV, KITE-Radio, KTSA-Radio and KSJL-Radio. Ms. Cullum has appeared on network and talk shows for ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, C-Span, BBC, and Canadian Broadcasting. Her nationally syndicated program, “The BQ View” was heard coast-to-coast and was carried on the Radio America Network.
She has also worked as marketing director for the Coors Corporation, and marketing specialist for the National Bureau of the Census. She served as White House liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and executive assistant to the deputy director of FEMA during President George H.W. Bush’s administration. She also served as president of the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts.
According to one of her online biographies, she believes that the bedrock of American democracy is a vibrant, ethical and free press.