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Obama names Bush’s former spokeperson to Broadcast board

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Hopefully, the United States won’t be broadcasting any programs about the Cuban missile crisis to foreign audiences.

President Barack Obama has tapped a former top aide of his predecessor George W. Bush to a key post on a board overseeing government-sponsored international broadcasting, just a few weeks after she called his administration’s behavior “unbecoming” with regards to the so-called “White House war with Fox News.”

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Dana Perino, the first Republican woman to serve as White House press secretary, was appointed late Wednesday to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

‘I’m honored by the president’s announcement and I’m looking forward to serving on the bipartisan board, if I’m confirmed,’ Perino said.

She currently serves as chief issues counselor for the United States at international public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and as a contributor to the Fox News Channel, which has sparred with the Obama administration over the past several months.

Created in 1994, the BBG oversees all of the US government’s non-military international broadcasting outlets, including Voice of America, Alhurra television, Radio Sawa, TV Marti, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe.

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Obama also nominated Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute leadership group and former CNN chief executive and Time magazine editor, to serve as BBG chairman. All nominees must next be confirmed by the Senate.

The BBG’s mission is to “promote and sustain freedom and democracy by broadcasting accurate and objective news and information about the United States and the world to audiences overseas.”

The BBG’s site notes, “The Board is composed of nine bipartisan members with expertise in the fields of journalism, broadcasting, and public and international affairs. Eight members are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The ninth, an ex-officio member, is the Secretary of State. The current members of the Board are: James K. Glassman, Chairman; Joaquin F. Blaya; Blanquita Walsh Cullum; D. Jeffrey Hirschberg; Edward E. Kaufman; Steven J. Simmons; and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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Nearly two years ago, as RAW STORY reported, Perino was widely mocked after an appearance on National Public Radio’s quiz show, “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” where she shared a story she’d previously only shared in private.

When a reporter asked her a question during a White House briefing in which he referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis — she didn’t know what it was.

“I was panicked a bit because I really don’t know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis,” said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. “It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I’m pretty sure.”

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The exchange was first noted in the Washington Post.

“I came home and I asked my husband,” she said on air. “I said, ‘Wasn’t that like the Bay of Pigs thing?’ And he said, ‘Oh, Dana.’ ”

Perino was referring to the White House briefing held on October 26, when a reporter asked her, “Do you want to address the remarks by President Putin, who said the United States setting up a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe was like the Soviet Union putting missiles in Cuba, setting up a Cuban missile crisis?”

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“Well, I think that the historical comparison is not — does not exactly work,” Perino had responded.

Perino is a contributer to Fox News, where she just recently appeared to slam the media over its treatment of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

Perino told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, “And actually — you know, I got to travel this weekend, too, out in Colorado and Wyoming, and just meeting some people who said they were excited about the book coming out, interested in what I thought, did I think she was going to run for president. But one of the things I heard repeatedly is that, I feel like I can trust her and I feel like I can relate to her. And I don’t even think that some of the media, when they are asking questions about her or to her, realize how condescending they sound, not just to Sarah Palin, but to all the people who might admire her.”

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“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged the Obama administration to appoint Perino,” The Hill reports. “The Obama administration and Fox News have openly feuded for several months. The White House has accused Fox of injecting opinion into its news coverage of the administration.”

Think Progress noted that last month on Fox, “Perino sharply criticized the Obama administration’s tactics and expressed absolute shock at the example the United States was setting for ‘the free press in emerging democracies,’ comparing the criticisms of Fox News to when ‘Hugo Chavez shuts down television stations.’”

PERINO: That was a coordinated, calculated attack. It was unbecoming. And if you look at some of the coverage of what mainstream media covers when, for example, somebody like a Hugo Chavez shuts down television stations, he calls them illegitimate.

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Now, I’m not suggesting that this White House believes that they are going to come over here and shut down Fox News. But they are defining a narrative in their first year, and it’s going to be very hard to recover from it. […]

Through our State Department, we are trying to help emerging democracies get journalists and government officials to talk to one another, because freedom of the press is essential to any democracy. Believe me, they are watching this, and they have — surely are raising questions.

A few days earlier, Perino said on Fox that the Obama administration was “acting like dictators do.”

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Roll Call reports, “This is the second time a president has nominated McCue to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. President George W. Bush also nominated her, but Senate Republicans refused to move her nomination to the Senate floor despite repeated attempts by Reid. Since leaving the White House, Perino, a frequent commentator on Fox News, has worked as the chief issues counselor for the United States at Burson-Marsteller.”

RAW STORY correspondent Eric Brewer often sparred with Perino at the Bush White House briefings, over issues such as Bush remarks alluding to Qaeda allegedly plotting to steal Iraq’s oil and the Pentagon military analyst program.

Brewer accused Perino of ducking his questions, until she was “shamed” by other White House correspondents to call on him.

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(with afp report)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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