CEO Amanda Bennett testifies before Senate subcommittee on role of fact-based journalism in contested information environments

May 5, 2023

In a hearing on Wednesday, May 3, U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Amanda Bennett testified on the contested global information environment, and the critical role of fact-based media in a hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development.

As the first of a two-part panel on ‘The Global Information war: Is the U.S. Winning or Losing?’, Bennett highlighted the critical nature of information at this point in time: “We are at an inflection point. Authoritarian regimes are using malign influence, disinformation, propaganda, and information manipulation to close the flow of information and undermine those seeking fact-based information about the world around them. The governments of the PRC, Iran, and Russia often work together to amplify their malign influence, obscure the facts, and cause confusion on a global scale,” she testified.

However, Bennett noted that USAGM was created to address exactly these circumstances, and stressed how the agency and its entities are evolving to meet new challenges in technology, in information manipulation and in authoritarian crackdowns on press. Bennett said, “This is a moment that USAGM was built for, as it was during World War II and the Cold War, to combat malign foreign influence. While the governments of China, Russia, and Iran expand state-sponsored propaganda not only in their own countries but also into regions including Latin America, South and Central Asia, and Africa – USAGM, with over four thousand media partners around the world, is well-positioned to counter this authoritarian influence offensive. We have measurable data showing we are outperforming PRC and Russian state-controlled media in many key markets. And USAGM’s credibility and trust with our audiences are high because we tell the truth. It is not too late for us to secure our competitive advantage.”

A separate panel of experts also testified, including the Honorable David Stilwell, Fox Fellow for Future Pacing Threats, Air Force Academy Institute for Future Conflict and former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at U.S. Department of State; Mr. Christopher Walker, Vice President for Studies and Analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy and Ms. Jessica Brandt, Policy Director, Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative at Brookings Institution.

CEO Bennett’s testimony may be found here.

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