John Lansing, CEO of the USAGM, has apparently landed in hot water after his recent congressional testimony in which he attempted to gauge the difference in media funding in the US and Russia.
Testifying before the House Appropriations subcommittee, Lansing accused Russia of aiming to destroy “the very idea of an objective, verifiable set of facts”, as quoted by the Courthouse News Service, and then proceeded to ask the government for additional funding "because the Russians are sparing no expense in disrupting all these democratic institutions".
"I don't know exactly what they invest in RT and in Sputnik and in other Russian media, but I know it's more than what the United States government invests," said Lansing, whose agency supervises the work of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other networks.
RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, however, was quick to respond to this development with actual numbers on hand, noting that the USAGM budget for fiscal year 2019, some $808 million, is about twice as big as the budget of RT and Sputnik combined (approximately $440 million, as her news agency pointed out).
Седой дядечка в очочках на видео врет конгрессу США о тратах России на RT и Sputnik, которые якобы в 10!!! раз выше американских трат на иновещание.— Маргарита Симоньян (@M_Simonyan) 12 июля 2019 г.
Дядечка — начальник того самого агентства по американскому иновещанию, куда входят и 'Голос Америки', и 'Радио Свобода'. pic.twitter.com/n5pNmgn9Lq
Formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the US Agency for Global Media is an independent agency of the United States government, which supervises media outlets such as the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio y Television Martí, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.
While USAGM CEO John Lansing previously stated that the agency’s "global priorities…reflect US national security interests", which are broadcast to "an unduplicated weekly audience of 278 million people in 59 languages and in more than 100 countries", its critics note that some of the media outlets supervised by the agency were originally established to "perpetuate pro-Washington propaganda".