The Post's editorial "The War of Ideas" asks if Charles Wick, director of the International Communication Agency, is "sacrificing credibility for propaganda" in ICA's Voice of America broadcasts. If The Post sees a contradiction between VOA credibility and VOA adherence to the foreign policy goals of the Reagan administration, the relevant question is whether The Post knows what VOA and ICA are supposed to be doing.
ICA exists and is supported by taxpayers to present persuasively and effectively the point of view of the U.S. government through various media and by personal diplomacy of public affairs officers stationed throughout the world. This mission cannot be carried out by the kind of heavyhanded and unethical devices The Post rightly decries. No one in the Reagan administration has said it could. But neither can it be carried out by confusing the origins, methods and goals of VOA with, say, those of the Columbia Broadcasting System.
It is perfectly legitimate for the president's appointees at ICA to be concerned about such questions as whether VOA news broadcasts should refer to the Afghans as "freedom fighters" or "rebels." This is not a case of sacrificing credibility for propaganda but, instead, an attempt to make certain that VOA credibility is strengthened and its efficiency enhanced by choices of words and phrases in news programs that are at once factually correct and emotionally persuasive.