BBG – USAGM Watch Commentary
“Multiple Voice of America (VOA) reporters have repeatedly posted anti-Trump comments on their professional Twitter accounts, despite a social media policy requiring employee impartiality on social media platforms,” The Daily Caller reporter Shelby Talcott wrote in a new article in a series of reports about numerous managerial and programming scandals at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). The federal agency funded by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of about $800 million is headed by Obama administration holdover CEO John F. Lansing and his team of VOA Director Amanda Bennett and VOA Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara.
Lansing got his job in 2015. Both Bennett and Sugawara were selected by Lansing in 2016. Lansing also brought on board Dr. Haroon Ullah in 2017 as his chief strategic advisor and a right-hand man. Ullah recently pled guilty to federal charges of fraud and stealing money from USAGM. Some of the men Ullah brought with him to the agency are now serving as Lansing’s key advisors.
The Voice of America has not experienced such numerous public displays of extreme partisanship and bias prior to the current agency leadership taking control of the taxpayer-funded international media outreach agency in 2015-2016. While the Daily Caller articles provide several examples of partisan bias at the Voice of America, there have been many others from other VOA reporters, some of much more outrageous and even obscene nature.
All of the controversial social media posts by VOA editors and reporters were directed against Donald Trump, his family and Republican members of Congress, including Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). A VOA editor was also reported insulting on social media Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) because the VOA federal employee-journalist apparently favored another Democratic Party candidate for president in 2016. Prior to the Daily Caller reports, the VOA editor named as the author of multiple anti-Trump tweets received high praise from Amanda Bennett and was followed on Twitter by many other VOA reporters, editors, managers and at least one senior VOA executive. Bennett and Lansing had ignored several warnings about inappropriate partisan social media behavior of some VOA journalists.
The photo shows VOA Director Amanda Bennett swearing in her deputy Sandy Sugawara in 2016. The VOA Charter, which is U.S. law, requires Voice of America officials and reporters to provide accurate, balanced and comprehensive news for foreign audiences and to reflect without partisanship, bias and prejudice all responsible American viewpoints and opinions.