BBG Watch Commentary
Some of the U.S. federal employees who are news reporters for the Voice of America (VOA) international and through the internet also increasingly a domestic media entity exhibited in public behavior similar to what embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok showed in his controversial emails. But unlike him, these federal staffers were never identified by the senior management of the Voice of America and its parent agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). They were not transferred to non-journalistic duties after exhibiting extreme bias, both on private and government time. Some of them were even rewarded for what the current VOA management considers being outstanding journalists.
At least two VOA staffers, who in violation of the VOA Charter, VOA Journalistic Code, government regulations and journalistic ethics, either posted highly offensive memes and one-sided comments against the then presidential candidate and later President Donald Trump, or allowed them to be posted on official, tax-funded VOA social media pages–thus directly injecting themselves into a domestic political campaign in a partisan manner–are now listed among “VOA Experts.” Many others on the “VOA Experts” list are in fact excellent, unbiased journalists, but not the ones who publicly called Donald Trump “A Joke” or “F*ckface Von Clownstick” while at the same time covering U.S. political scene for the U.S. government, taxpayer-funded organization, which by law is required to stay above domestic politics and–as demanded by the VOA Charter–“represent America, not any single segment of American society, and…therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.”
Holdover officials in charge of the agency, VOA director Amanda Bennett and BBG CEO John Lansing, had been warned early on about such unprofessional behavior among a group of VOA reporters, but they failed to take effective action to put a stop to it during the 2016 presidential election campaign and afterwards. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, VOA also published one-sided slurs against Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders. On the election night in November 2016, VOA did not have any ready to broadcast profiles of Donald Trump but prepared in advance two “Hillary Clinton Wins” profiles of the Democratic Party candidate.
Posting of degrading memes and offensive, sometimes obscene comments, directed against Donald Trump continued for many months among a few VOA reporters well into 2017 and even later. It is important to point out, however, that the vast majority of the journalists on the VOA Experts list did not engage in such behavior. Nevertheless, VOA coverage of U.S. politics has never been as partisan and as biased as it has been during the last two years. Americans are clearly divided in their views about President Trump, but these divisions, including examples of strong criticism of President Trump, his views, and his policies must be reported fully and objectivity in compliance with the VOA Charter and without any personal and institutional bias.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, the VOA Ukrainian Service posted a video on the official VOA Facebook account in which Donald Trump was called “punk,” “dog,” “pig,” “con,” “buls**t artist,” “mutt,” “idiot,” “fool,” “bozo,” and “blatantly stupid,” without any balance and response. That video was eventually removed. Some of the public comments and memes posted on Facebook by VOA reporters include such descriptions of President Trump as “f*uck cheeto with hair” and “three cheers for f*cking Trumpy and his neo-Nazi crew.” One VOA reporter referred to Donald Trump as “F*ckface Von Clownstick” on a personal but publicly accessible Facebook page.
A VOA reporter posted on Facebook during the 2016 presidential campaign at least two Donald Trump-bashing memes. They included a GIF of a Nazi swastika swinging over Trump’s face and GIF depicting Mr. Trump as a male sexual organ. These were Facebook posts accessible to the public on a personal Facebook page where the reporter self-identified as working for the Voice of America.
Reposted by a VOA Reporter on December 1, 2016, as seen online on the VOA reporter’s personal but publicly accessible Facebook page on November 21, 2017
The original video, reposted on the VOA reporter’s Facebook page, was attributed to: Flo & Joan. The VOA reporter did not produce this video. This particular VOA reporter did not specifically announced in the “About” section of the Facebook page that he was working for the Voice of America, but the page’s timeline included numerous posts of the reporter’s work for the Voice of America and other references to VOA. It had the official picture I.D. as a VOA reporter and links to VOA videos and news reports.
The video with obscene epithets describing Donald Trump was re-posted by a VOA reporter on December 1, 2016 and is still visible on the reporters personal Facebook page where associations with VOA can be easily seen in some of the other posts.
The same VOA reporter wrote in a Facebook post on January 19, 2017:
Posted by a VOA Reporter on January 19, 2017, as seen online on November 21, 2017
New favorite game: spot the Trump supporter on Metro
A VOA reporter wrote in a Facebook post on November 14, 2016:
Posted by a VOA Reporter on November 14, 2016, as seen online on November 21, 2017
Funniest hashtag seen today: #horrorclown
On November 11, 2016, the same VOA reporter reposted a photo showing a large “F*ck Trump” graffiti and a dog.
A VOA reporter wrote:
Casey [the dog] swears he’s innocent.
Reposted by a VOA Reporter on November 11, 2016, as seen online on November 21, 2017
The VOA reporter wrote:
Casey [the dog] swears he’s innocent. [Note that the original posts were not created by the VOA reporter. They were reposted on a public Facebook page belonging to the VOA reporter.]
[This was a re-posting of another Facebook post originated by someone not associated with VOA.]
Posted by a VOA Reporter on November 9, 2016, as seen online on November 21, 2017
Is this the entrance of Caesar? I’m throwing up inside.
Posted by a VOA Reporter on July 25, 2016, as seen online on November 21, 2017
Go home, Bernie Bros, yer drunk
A few Voice of America reporters mocked Trump, his daughter, and his wife in a satirical performance at VOA newsroom holiday party which was at least in part streamed on Facebook. Trump was called “A Joke” and a joke of a sexual nature was told about his wife. “And the No. 1 top reason to love America: It’s where a woman who posed naked for a men’s magazine can be First Lady!,” a VOA reporter said.
In the past, VOA reporters did not make similar fun of President Obama, his wife or their daughters.
The link to the “Trump Bingo” was prominently featured on VOA English News homepage on the presidential inauguration day. One of the description chosen by VOA to describe the U.S. President was “Disgrace.”. The Trump Inauguration Bingo was eventually removed form the VOA website.
“And the No. 1 top reason to love America: It’s where a woman who posed naked for a men’s magazine can be First Lady!”