I have two words for the critics: Radio Sawa.
Radio Sawa went online with a mix of English and Arabic pop tunes with some news and politics just eight months ago, and replaced VOA Arabic in most of the Middle East. Within three months, it was the number one station in eight Arab capitals, reaching ten times the number of people Voice of America Arabic reached in 50 years. It is now a tremendous tool for spreading the American viewpoint throughout the Arab world.
What the VOA is doing in Iran is copying a program that has been proven to work. They are trading a station that has a boring format of all-news-and-politics, for something that will have a little less politics, but will have the opportunity to reach a far wider audience. The people dying for an American voice on the news and the political situation will still get it, while many others, uninterested or even opposed to our ideals, will now be exposed to them anyway. If they can halve their news coverage and double their audience, that would be a great trade, and that's what they're trying to do. If Radio Sawa is any indication, they'll do a lot better than that. If anything, it's evidence that Bush is taking Iran more, not less, seriously.