BBG Watch Commentary
BBG Watch has learned that the Broadcasting Board of Governors(BBG) made much harder to find on the Internet one of its press releases, which praised North Korean propaganda being promoted in a 2011 Voice of America (VOA) news report, by removing its original link and changing its date.
BBG Watch was told that at least one of the current BBG board members was deeply concerned about this apparent attempt to alter U.S. government records, as well as recent VOA promotion of alleged benefits of more engagement with North Korea.
A few days before the death of American university student Otto Warmbier who had lapsed into a coma in a North Korean prison, U.S. taxpayer-funded ($220 million FY 2017) Voice of America issued in June 2017 a news report touting benefits of U.S. engagement and trade with North Korea.
SEE: Voice of America report touts benefits of engagement with North Korea, BBG Watch, June 21, 2017.
VOA, which is part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors federal agency, is still managed by senior executives appointed to their positions during the Obama administration. They include VOA director Amanda Bennett and BBG CEO John Lansing. Radio Free Asia (RFA), another U.S. taxpayer-funded entity overseen by the BBG but operating under a separate management, does not have management and programming problems similar to VOA’s. According to outside observers, RFA still offers objective news and opinions to its North Korean audience and does not fall for North Korean or Chinese propaganda.
The 2011 VOA news report included a video full of North Korean propaganda claims which were not countered or even sufficiently balanced as required by the VOA Charter. According to the BBG press release, the VOA correspondent who was allowed to enter North Korea described the North Korean capital Pyongyang as “vibrant and busy with activity.” [Emphasis added.]
The one-sided Voice of America news video included a number of images showing affluent-looking North Korean children and well-stocked shops and modern fast food restaurants in Pyongyang.
The highlight of the VOA report was this video:
The original link to the BBG press release, “VOA Reporter Gets Rare Glimpse of Life in North Korea” (https://www.bbg.gov/pressroom/press-releases/VOA_Reporter_Gets_Rare_Glimpse_of_Life_in_North_Korea.html) no longer works. The link was used by NGOs and media freedom activists who have criticized VOA programs to North Korea in the last several years.
We were able to trace down the BBG press release under a different link (https://www.bbg.gov/1970/01/01/dddd/) and noticed that the date of the BBG press release was changed to January 1, 1970.
The featured image shows a North Korean saleswoman dancing for the Voice of America (VOA) Korean Service reporter in a well-stocked shop in the capital Pyongyang described in the 2011 VOA report as a “city vibrant and busy with activity.” As late as June 2017, VOA reports were touting benefits of U.S. engagement and trade with North Korea.