No policy change for US government as Beers departs

WASHINGTON DC - The sudden resignation of undersecretary of state and advertising veteran Charlotte Beers is not expected to cause a major shift in mission at the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, a State Department spokesman said.

Both of the program's chief figures -- the interim replacement Patricia Harrison, and Stuart Holliday, the coordinator for international information programs -- have worked closely with Beers, the former advertising executive famous for her work on such campaigns as Uncle Ben's rice.

"I don't see much of a sea change in philosophy. I think we're going to keep on forging ahead," said Rob Tappan, principal deputy press secretary.

Beers, who said she was stepping down because of health reasons, spearheaded an operation that ranged from placing op-ed pieces to a controversial video campaign about Muslim life in America that some Arab nations refused to run.

Beers' appointment had initially caused a flare-up among those wary of her Madison Avenue background. Widespread speculation has already begun about who will take over the operation.

"Since television now plays such a leading role in US international communications, and since it will be a dominant force in presenting America's story if war comes to the Middle East, my gut feeling is that her successor will come from TV hard news," said Wes Pedersen, director of communications and PR for The Public Affairs Council.

He added, "With an administration that is markedly conservative, the candidate will clearly not come from the liberal fringe of broadcasting or Hollywood."

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