Policy

Clinton: Government Has Left Media Message Void That Jihadists Filled

Sec'y of State Tells Congressional Panel She Created State Initiative to Use Social Media to Counter Terrorist Propagandists 1/23/2013 12:58 PM Eastern

 

Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that she created a new unit at State to counter jihadist propaganda in social media.

When Al Qaeda puts up a video saying how terrible the U.S. is, she said, the State puts up one about how terrible they are.

At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead, including Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Clinton revealed that info after saying she thought that, while CNN and Fox were out there in the world, the U.S. government had abdicated its radio and TV presence, leaving a void that jihadist propaganda had filled.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees U.S. broadcasts internationally, including to the Middle East. But like everything thing else in Washington, it has been hit by budget cuts. Clinton said BBG was "nearly defunct."

She said that though TV and radio were now thought of as old-fashioned, they were still important in areas where state is trying to conduct its business.

She also said that BBG was in desperate need of "assistance, intervention and change."

Clinton talked about the Cold War days when the U.S. broadcast behind the Iron Curtain and that it was time to get smart about the U.S.'s own media message and start "putting some points on the board."

Clinton also revealed her disaffection for the Sunday public affairs shows. Asked why she had turned down requests to appear to talk about Benghazi, she said that "going on Sunday shows is not my favorite thing to do," and added that she had not been on one in over a year. Ambassador Susan Rice instead fronted the State message on the shows, including a narrative about the attacks being a reaction to an anti-Muslim video.

September