Answering one word in my Wall Street Journal piece yesterday about Willis Conover, Matt Armstrong (pictured) posted on his blog a clarification of the effect of the Smith-Mundt Act. Mr. Armstrong is a member of the Broadcating Board of Governors, which oversees the U.S. Government’s civilian international media, including the Voice of America. In the WSJ article, I wrote that the 1948 Smith-Mundt legislation forbids the Voice of America “from broadcasting within the U.S.” He defends my right to use the term “forbids” and says it is “the conventional wisdom.” Then he writes at length about the application of Smith-Mundt in practice and about Senator William Fullbright and others in the congress objecting to the whole concept of the VOA and changing Smith-Mundt. “In the end,” he writes, “there is a little irony in that the great Willis Conover, the cultural diplomat, is unknown to Americans because of Senator Fulbright, the celebrated champion of exchanges.”
There is much more in Mr. Armstrong’s long essay about the history of Smith-Mundt, Senator Karl Mundt’s role in promoting what eventually was called the Fullbright Act, about the VOA and public diplomacy in general. To read it, go here.