Sen. Menendez’s ‘arms for Ukraine’ call merits top headline on BBC, but not on Voice of America English news website

BBG Watch Commentary

BBC Homepage Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 9.20PM EDT

BBC Homepage Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 9.20PM EDT

Key American senators, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), calling for the U.S. to send weapons to help Ukraine fight what they say is “a Russian invasion,” was top news on the BBC website for much of the day on Sunday, but on the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) English news website their call did not even get a separate news item with a separate headline.

The U.S. senators’ call for arms for Ukraine was later included with some delay in the middle of another VOA English news report dealing with the Ukraine crisis, but VOA only mentioned two Democratic senators, only one of whom (Senator Menendez) called for U.S. arms for Ukraine, and ignored a similar call from Senator John McCain, a key Republican in the U.S. Senate. VOA Russian and Ukrainian services, however, posted separate reports on today’s comments by both Senator Menendez and Senator McCain.

Speaking on CNN, Mr Menendez, a Democrat, said: “We should provide the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression,” BBC reported. “This is no longer the question of some rebel separatists, this is a direct invasion by Russia. We must recognise it as that,” Senator Menendez said, as reported by BBC.

Voice of America English News completely ignored Sunday (as of 9:45 PM EDT) comments about Russian aggression in Ukraine from chief Republican U.S. foreign policy spokesman in the U.S. Senate, Senator McCain.

Sen. Menendez

Sen. Menendez

Sen. McCain

Sen. McCain

Senator John McCain said: “This is not an incursion. This is an invasion,” BBC reported.

Senator McCain told CBS’s Face the Nation that Mr Putin was “an old KGB colonel that wants to restore the Russian empire,” BBC also reported.

Mr. McCain called for “strong sanctions”, before adding that Ukraine must be supplied with weapons: “Give them the weapons they need. Give them the wherewithal they need. Give them the ability to fight,” BBC report said.

Voice of America English News did not report Sunday (as of 11:00 PM EDT) any of these comments by Senator McCain or by any other Republican, even though VOA is overseen by the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the 1976 VOA Charter, which is U.S. Public Law 94-350, clearly requires the Voice of America “to represent America, not any single segment of American society, and … therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.

 

Voice of America Homepage Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 9.23PM EDT. There is no mention of U.S. senators' call for U.S. arms for Ukraine and no  link to a separate news item.

Voice of America Homepage Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 9.23PM EDT. There is no mention of U.S. senators’ call for U.S. arms for Ukraine and no link to a separate news item.

 
 

Voice of America English News did not quote these specific comments by Senator Menendez as reported by BBC. Buried in the middle of a VOA report, which was not directly related to comments by U.S. senators and posted under the title, “Rebels Fire on Ukrainian Ship at Sea,” was only this brief and shortened quote from Senator Menendez:

VOA: Menendez said “thousands” of Russian troops are in Ukraine supporting rebel separatists, and that the U.S., European Union and NATO “have to give the Ukrainians the fighting chance to defend themselves.”

The Democrat from the northeastern state of New Jersey said he is not suggesting U.S. or NATO troops be sent to Ukraine.

 

BBC Homepage Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 9.20PM EDT

BBC Homepage Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 9.20PM EDT

 
 

The title of BBC’s top news story Sunday was:‘Ukraine crisis: US senators urge arms ‘to fight Russia’,” BBC, August 32, 2014.

The post seen below was not a separate VOA news report, but a segment inserted rather late Sunday into an older VOA news report with the headline, “Rebels Fire on Ukrainian Ship at Sea.” The headline also would not indicate to international audiences that the report had anything to do with Senator Menendez.

The inserted segment in the VOA report quotes two key Democrats in the U.S. Senate but does not quote a single Republican. International audiences looking at this report on the VOA English News website would have no idea that the call for U.S. arms for Ukraine was in fact bipartisan.

Many VOA executives have been on vacation in August. At the same time, they allowed many senior VOA reporters also to take vacations despite major crises in Ukraine, in Iraq, and domestically, in Ferguson, Missouri.

Senior VOA executives have also decimated the VOA Central Newsroom by not filling many existing vacancies.

VOA foreign language services have even fewer resources, which have been diverted to the vast VOA and International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executive staff and their bureaucracy.

Earlier this month, the VOA Kurdish Service was not able to update its website and its Facebook and Twitter pages for many hours while Kurdish-speaking minorities were being slaughtered by Islamic State fighters in Iran and others were fleeing for their lives.

VOA News as of 11:00 PM EDT, August 31, 2014

Rebels Fire on Ukrainian Ship at Sea

(…)

Arms for Ukraine

News of the attack came a short time after a prominent U.S. lawmaker said the United States and Europe should provide arms to Ukraine’s military to combat what he called a Russian invasion.

Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared on CNN television from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Sunday.

Menendez said “thousands” of Russian troops are in Ukraine supporting rebel separatists, and that the U.S., European Union and NATO “have to give the Ukrainians the fighting chance to defend themselves.”

The Democrat from the northeastern state of New Jersey said he is not suggesting U.S. or NATO troops be sent to Ukraine.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein told NBC television Sunday she believes the situation in Ukraine is deeply personal for Putin, and she said he may be calling the shots himself.

“People say, ‘Just wait till the sanctions bite and the economy slips.’ I don’t think so. I think if Russians follow him, and … they are following him … the Russians are very brave and very long suffering, and they will tough out any economic difficulty,” she said.

The Democrat, who represents the West Coast state of California and chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said senior U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, should be sent to talk directly with Putin.

(…)

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