U.S. Trump critics love porn star tabloid tweet from Voice of America – BBG Watch

U.S. Trump critics love porn star tabloid tweet from Voice of America

BBG Watch Commentary

Critics of President Trump in the United States seem delighted with a tweet by the Chief White House Correspondent of U.S. tax-funded Voice of America (VOA) showing “Saturday front pages of NYC tabloids” with pictures of Donald Trump, a porn star, and big-letter headlines: “S#!T STORMY” and “OH CRAP!

The VOA White House Bureau Chief is Steve Herman, @W7VOA. His Twitter page says he is “@WhiteHouse bureau chief @VOANews.”

Steve Herman’s VOA bio says that he is “The veteran journalist [who] spent 26 years in Asia, including Tokyo and subsequent stints as VOA’s correspondent and bureau chief in India, South Korea and Thailand. He also served as VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department. His articles, columns and reviews have been published in numerous newspapers and magazines.”

Herman’s Saturday tweet with the tabloid porn star picture is showing over 2,600 likes, 1,400 retweets, and 125 comments as of noon, Sunday, January 14, 2018. Most of the comments appear to be from partisan Trump critics in the United States. Here are a few examples of comments posted under the VOA correspondent’s tweet:

The overwhelming majority of comments under the Voice of America correspondent’s tweets are anti-Trump and appear to be from Americans. Comments from Americans who support Trump or retweets of articles in support of Trump on the VOA correspondent’s Twitter account are extremely rare even though Donald Trump won the U.S Presidency with electoral majority and near majority popular vote and has millions of supporters among Americans.

VOA is prohibited by law from specifically targeting Americans with its programs, but the Internet and social media made this prohibition largely meaningless. VOA programs can be legally redistributed in the United States by American citizens, U.S. media, and anybody else who may choose to redistribute such VOA content, but as federal government employees, VOA reporters must follow various VOA, BBG and U.S. government laws, rules and regulations. In this case and many others, VOA appears to have a large audience of anti-Trump U.S. and very few pro-Trump followers, apparently in response to the type of social media content these VOA reporters produce and the kind of U.S. followers they attract.

In contrast to the VOA White House correspondent’s tweet with tabloid pictures which became highly popular among U.S. Trump critics, his earlier tweet with the White House response to the reported scandal received hardly any attention. As of noon, Sunday, it was showing only two likes, three retweets, and two comments. That is quite a difference for the U.S. taxpayer-funded organization whose Charter says that it must provide balanced programs for audiences abroad, not in the United States.

The VOA White House Bureau Chief also posted this tweet in reference too the false nuclear attack alarm in Hawaii.

In one of his earlier tweets on the recent New York City terrorist attack, the VOA Chief White House Correspondent highlighted a local media report that the incident was related to “road rage.”

He also called ABC reporter Brian Ross, who was later suspended arguably the most connected broadcast reporter for some decades when it comes to learning about details of federal criminal investigations and retweeted his false report.

Mr. Herman later tweeted that it was all a mistake.

Voice of America’s senior management, still led by Obama administration holdover appointee Amanda Bennett and her deputy Sandy Sugawara, who report to Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO John F. Lansing, also an Obama administration holdover official, does not seem to have a clear policy on Twitter accounts of VOA reporters. In response to a recent press inquiry, the VOA Public Relations Office issued this statement:

VOA MANAGEMENT: Twitter account [of a senior VOA correspondent] is a personal account rather than an official VOA account. VOA journalists are currently permitted to use personal social media accounts to share their official work and content from other accounts when doing so benefits the agency’s mission. Such personal accounts, and the content they contain, are not directly subject to agency oversight or control since they are not government property. Nevertheless, employees are expected to manage any personal account associated with official agency business in a professional manner consistent with general standards and practices applicable to journalists and federal employees, including VOA’s best practices guide.

We have to assume that Ms. Bennett, Ms. Sugawara and Mr. Lansing consider such tweets by VOA correspondents as “consistent with general standards and practices applicable to journalists and federal employees, including VOA’s best practices guide,” since this one and similar ones have not been removed. The Voice of America White House Bureau Chief was described recently by the federal agency’s management as VOA’s “Twitter king.”

VOA’s Journalistic Code, which provides an overview of its values and policies, can be found here. It says that “VOA always presents a full and fair account of events. VOA staff will evaluate information on its merits, and will not support violence, sensationalism, personal value judgment, or misleading emphases in its reporting.” VOA’s Journalistic Code also says: “Whenever VOA reports a charge or accusation made by an individual or a group against another, or presents one side of a controversial issue, a response and/or balancing information should be included in the initial report,” as well as: “VOA presents a comprehensive account of America and the world, and always puts events in context. That means constant vigilance to reflect America’s and the world’s political, geographical, cultural, ethnic, religious and social diversity.”

We note that 17 U.S.C. §105 places “any work of the United States Government” in the public domain. The law defines “work of the United States Government” in 17 U.S.C. §101 as (1) a work prepared by “an officer or employee of the United States Government” (2) “as part of that person’s official duties.” A United States government work does not enter the public domain unless it satisfies both parts of this definition, but many of the tweets posted by VOA correspondents on their personal accounts, although not all, are posted during their official government hours.

This is how the Voice of America (Annual budget: $234.7 million) describes its mission and values:

VOA: “Voice of America (VOA) is the largest U.S. international broadcaster, providing news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of 236.8 million people. VOA produces content for digital, television, and radio platforms. It is easily accessed via your mobile phone and on social media. It is also distributed by satellite, cable, FM and MW, and is carried on a network of approximately 3,000 affiliate stations.
 
Since its creation in 1942, Voice of America has been committed to providing comprehensive coverage of the news and telling audiences the truth. Through World War II, the Cold War, the fight against global terrorism, and the struggle for freedom around the globe today, VOA exemplifies the principles of a free press.
 
VOA is part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the government agency that oversees all non-military, U.S. international broadcasting. It is funded by the U.S. Congress.”

This is how the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG’s requested annual budget for FY 2018, including VOA’s budget is $685.2 million; it was $786.6 million in FY 2017) describes its mission:

BBG: The mission of the Broadcasting Board of Governors is to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. The agency’s mission is reinforced by those of the individual broadcasters that are overseen by the BBG.

This is the VOA Charter (U.S. Public Law 94-350​):

VOA Charter
 
The long-range interests of the United States are served by communicating directly with the peoples of the world by radio. To be effective, the Voice of America must win the attention and respect of listeners. These principles will therefore govern Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts:
 
1. VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.
 
2. VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.
 
3. VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.
 
Gerald R. Ford
President of the United States of America
Signed July 12, 1976
Public Law 94-350​

 
 
 

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