BBG Watch Commentary
Voice of America (English) News Omits Senator Corker’s Comments on Putin Corruption
Voice of America English Newsroom (VOA News) posted online a news report on VOA congressional correspondent Michael Bowman’s exclusive interview with Senator Bob Corker, Republican from Tennessee, in which the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chairman’s comments on revelations of corruption about President Putin were, mysteriously, not included. [VOA News report was posted at 4:05 PM EST Monday. As of 11:50 PM EST Monday, it does not mention Senator Corker’s comments on Putin corruption.]
VOA (English) News report on the interview with Senator Corker covered other issues, including Syria, Iran and North Korea, but Senator Corker’s comments about President Putin and corruption were not mentioned in the VOA News report on the interview with the senator. VOA posted another report, “Russia Shrugs Off Allegations Against Putin | VOA News,” which also did not include Senator Corker’s comments. It was, however, a very good report by VOA Moscow correspondent Daniel Schearf and included comments by distinguished American journalist and Russia expert David Satter.
Senator Corker’s comments on Putin should have definitely been included in the VOA News report on the interview with the senator. Because they were not, it is almost certain that the vast majority of VOA foreign language services did not report on them. For example, a search of the VOA Ukrainian website as of 11:45 PM EST Monday did not produce any reports on Senator Corker commenting on President Putin being a corrupt leader. Other VOA foreign language services also do not have such a report on their news websites.
In fact, Senator Corker’s comments about Russia and President Putin being a corrupt politician deserved a separate Voice of America news report with a headline that might read, “Key U.S. Senator Says Putin Corruption Will Destabilize Russia.” Such a report was not written by Voice of America Central Newsroom, thus ensuring that most of the world will not learn about it.
Because of the late hour, it is difficult to find out whether the omission was intentional, but it would be difficult to find it out under any circumstances. Some VOA Newsroom reporters said publicly that they object to anything that could fall under the category of “countering” violent extremism or propaganda.
VOA Newsroom is poorly managed and basically empty after business hours as most of the agency’s budget goes to the vast International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) bureaucracy. Longtime senior BBG officials are advising new CEO John Lansing to lobby against the bipartisan bill H.R. 2323 which would reform the agency and provide for two CEOs and two board to ensure much greater oversight for VOA and grantee media outlets, such as Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). One CEO and one part-time board simply cannot provide such oversight and leadership, which explains constant mishaps at VOA and RFE/RL in recent years. Some BBG officials may have engaged in allegedly technically illegal lobbying against H.R. 2323, but such accusations are difficult to prove and almost never prosecuted.
Voice of America Russian Services Gives Senator Corker’s Putin Corruption Comments One Paragraph and No Video
As of 11:30 PM EST Monday, VOA Russian Service devoted only one short paragraph to Senator Corker’s comments on President Putin being corrupt and a destabilizing effect of this corruption on Russia and Putin’s own regime. As of 11:30 PM EST Monday, the VOA Russian Service report with one paragraph on Putin corruption was showing only 15 Facebook “Shares” on the service’s news site.
In what could only be described as “good-enough-for-government-work” attitude, VOA Russian Service did not bother to isolate and put online Senator Corker’s video with comments about Putin’s corruption, and neither did VOA News.
Voice of America is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) which also has oversight for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and other U.S. taxpayer-funded media outlets targeting overseas audiences. RFE/RL English news website did have a separate report on Senator Corker’s comments about Putin being a corrupt leader of Russia.
However, a search of the RFE/RL’s Radio Liberty Russian Service site as of 11:30 PM EST Monday did not produce any reports on Senator Corker’s comments about President Putin being a corrupt leader.
Radio Liberty’s Guest Commentator Says Putin Corruption Not All That Important
BBC documentary on Putin being corrupt, a U.S Treasury Department official’s statement that Putin is corrupt, White House Press Secretary’s endorsement of that statement, and U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s comment to the Voice of America that corruption revelations about Putin will be destabilizing notwithstanding, a Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty’s guest commentator wrote in an op-ed for Radio Liberty’s Russian Service that Putin being corrupt is not even eleventh or one hundred and eleventh in terms of importance on which Putin is uniquely bad. [Вот, если навскидку, десять пунктов, по которым Путин однозначно плох, но в моду сейчас входит даже не одиннадцатый по значимости, а сто одиннадцатый: Путин – коррупционер.]
Last year, management of Radio Liberty’s Russian Service fired successful young investigative reporter Anastasia Kirilenko who later did research for the BBC corruption documentary on Putin. Even a mention of Kirilenko’s name was banned in Radio Liberty’s Russian programs while her new investigative reports were being published in the West and by some of the more brave independent media outlets in Russia. SEE: A Putin Corruption Reporter Too Radical For Radio Liberty, BBG Watch, January 25, 2016.
Former BBG member and former Radio Liberty director S. Enders Wimbush told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing late last year chaired by Senator Corker that the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ response to events in Ukraine through RFE/RL and VOA has been “feeble.” Hillary Clinton who while still the First Lady highly praised RFE/RL in 1996 before the Broadcasting Board of Governors was established in 1999 said in 2013 as Secretary of State and herself a BBG member that the Broadcasting Board of Governors was “practically defunct“ and unable to engage in the information war and the war of ideas.
BBG WATCH TRANSCRIPT OF VOA INTERVIEW – SEN. CORKER ON PUTIN CORRUPTION
MICHAEL BOWMAN, VOA NEWS: Very quickly, the final question, but I ask.
The U.S. Treasury has designated Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, as corrupt. I wanted to ask you for your thoughts on that. Is it a designation that’s overdue?
SENATOR BOB CORKER, CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: You know, it’s interesting. I was also, I was at another meeting on Saturday, and what’s fascinating is that the Russian people are beginning to see, I think, that this may be the first time in modern times, that the Russian people are beginning to realize that they have a leader that has amassed tremendous personal wealth.And I think that is going to create some additional instability in Russia.
How a person, who is a former KGB person, can come into government and amass the wealth that he has, have these lavish weddings for all to see for his children, I mean, I think, again it’s going to be something that as more and more Russians understand that while he’s been in office he’s amassed what I understand to be billions of dollars of personal wealth. You cannot do that through just normal government operations. It has to be done through corruption. And I think that over time it’s going to be destabilizing for his regime as people find out more and more about it.
VOICE OF AMERICA
[Senator Corker’s comments on corruption revelations about President Putin were not included in the VOA News report as of 8:45 PM, EST, February 1, 2016. They were also not included in the video attached to the VOA News report.]
February 01, 2016 4:05 PM
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Bob Corker, voiced skepticism that nascent Syrian peace talks will end fighting or lead to the voluntary departure of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Very difficult at this point,” Corker said Monday in a wide-ranging interview with VOA . “I certainly support diplomacy, as I think everyone would, but the elements at present do not feel like they are in their proper place.”
Initial U.N.-mediated consultations in Geneva struggled to get underway one day after a suicide attack on a Shiite shine in Syria left scores dead and in the midst of a renewed government offensive on rebel territory. Corker noted that rebel negotiators’ basic conditions for launching the talks have not been met.
“The humanitarian things that they had asked for have not occurred. Not even the release of women and children that were born from rape from the prisons that Assad is overseeing,” the senator said.
Monday’s talks were postponed until Tuesday. Instead U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura met with the opposition for two hours.
Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry urged Syria’s warring parties to commit to dialogue.
“I appeal to both sides to make the most of this moment, to seize the opportunity for serious negotiations, to negotiate in good faith with the goal of making concrete measurable progress in the days immediately ahead,” Kerry said.
But Assad has no incentive to change tactics or give up power so long as his troops are advancing on the battlefield, according to Corker.
“The facts on the ground have been changing. You have Russia that has intervened, and certainly the Assad regime, because of their support and Iranian support, have been making gains,” the committee chairman said.
Turning to the international nuclear accord with Tehran, Corker said he wants the pact to succeed despite having opposed it and despite deep reservations that persist to this day.
“Since the agreement was agreed to they [Iran’s leaders] violated UN Security Council Resolutions relative again to ballistic missile testing. And yet, as you can see again there has been no pushback at all,” Corker said, adding that it is up to Congress “to do everything we can to hold Iran’s feet to the fire.”
He spoke as voters in Iowa were preparing to caucus for presidential candidates of both major political parties. Republican contenders have denounced the Iran nuclear accord. Senator Ted Cruz has pledged repeatedly to “rip the Iran deal to shreds” on his first day in the White House, if elected.
Asked about such comments, Corker counseled restraint.
“A new president coming in I think would most wisely look at the situation as it exists at the time,” Corker said.
“When people are running in primaries, sometimes they use rhetoric to show their resolve,” he added. “Probably the best way to do it is not to come in and rip it [abruptly terminate the pact], but to assess and move ahead based on where we are at the time.”
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama hailed implementation of the accord, saying Iran’s nuclear ambitions had been reined in without going to war.
Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved bipartisan sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program that target entities that help Pyongyang supply and finance its military endeavors.
“Some of those entities will be Chinese,” Corker said. “The country that could really push back against what North Korea is doing is China … maybe this [new sanctions] will rattle China to take some steps in a more forward manner.”
The senator acknowledged that unforeseen consequences could arise from punitive measures against Pyongyang, but said inaction is the greater risk.
“What I’d actually say you’ve got is the unintended consequences of doing nothing,” Corker said. “They [North Korea] continue to do the ballistic missile testing.”
“They [North Korean leadership] are, yes, very unstable, and therefore bound, possibly, to make some irrational decisions down the road. So it’s either do some things now to change that [North Korean nuclear] trajectory, or likely end up with someone who is very unstable, who can dominate with that instability,” he added.
Asked about the Senate sanctions bill last week, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “We look forward to working with the Congress on a more vigorous response to North Korea’s actions.”
VOICE OF AMERICA RUSSIAN
[In this report, Voice of America Russian Service devoted only one paragraph (shown in bold) to Senator Corker’s comments about corruption revelations against President Vladimir Putin and did not attach a video, a fuller summary or a transcript as of 9:00 PM EST, February 1, 2016. Most of the VOA Russian report was on Syria, Iran, North Korea and ISIS.]
Сенатор Боб Коркер: «Народ России начинает понимать, что его лидер сосредоточил в своих руках огромное личное состояние»
Глава сенатского Комитета по международным отношениям дал интервью «Голосу Америки»
Русская служба «Голоса Америки»
1 февраля сенатор-республиканец Боб Коркер (Bob Corker), возглавляющий сенатский Комитет по международным отношениям, посетил «Голос Америки» и ответил на вопросы нашего коллеги Майкла Боумана. Русская служба «Голоса Америки» публикует с небольшими сокращениями комментарии Боба Коркера по ряду внешнеполитических вопросов.
По словам Боба Коркера, сирийская оппозиция находится в настоящее время в трудном положении. Ее требования в гуманитарной сфере не выполнены. Законодатель напомнил, что правительство Асада не пошло даже на освобождение из тюрем женщин и их детей, родившихся в результате изнасилования. Подчеркнув трагический характер ситуации, сложившейся в Сирии, Коркер высказался в поддержку дипломатических усилий, отметив, однако, что сегодняшние условия в Сирии мало способствуют их успеху.
Боб Коркер скептически высказался об обсуждении Совбезом ООН вопроса о ядерных испытаниях в КНДР. В этой связи он указал на роль Китая; по словам сенатора, китайская сторона озабочена прежде всего стабильностью и «не хочет раскачивать лодку». «Однако, – продолжал Коркер, – я думаю, что… санкции могут изменить это и, надо надеяться, побудить их отреагировать иначе».
Ядерное соглашение с Ираном
«Я не поддерживал его, но, разумеется, я хочу, чтобы оно было успешным», – так законодатель сформулировал свое отношение к соглашению по иранской ядерной программе. По мнению Коркера, «республиканский Конгресс, объединив усилия обеих партий», может придать договору «больше силы». Вместе с тем сенатор выразил беспокойство в связи с ракетным испытаниями, проведенными Ираном в нарушение резолюций Совбеза ООН. Он подчеркнул также, что при решении проблемы необходимо учитывать экономические интересы Европы. «Россия», –продолжал Коркер, – заинтересована в продаже оружия, Китай заинтересован в нефти, и поэтому мы не увидим коллективного противодействия (действиям Ирана), осуществляемого соответствующим образом Советом Безопасности ООН». Сенатор выразил надежду, что следующий президент США будет действовать, исходя из того, что Соединенные Штаты все еще являются самой могущественной страной в мире, способной повлиять на своих партнеров.
Борьба с ИГИЛ
Как констатировал сенатор Коркер, сегодня ИГИЛ создал свой плацдарм в Афганистане. «Когда я был там… наши военные могли бороться с «Аль-Кайдой», но мы не могли предпринимать действий против «Исламского государства, – рассказал законодатель. – Это просто смешно… К счастью, Эш Картер это поправил, и сегодня наши военные на месте могут действовать против ИГИЛ…» «Мы опоздали», – так охарактеризовал ситуацию Боб Коркер.
Владимир Путин, обвинения в коррупции, российское общество
Отвечая на вопрос о заявлении Минфина США, поддержанного Белым домом, о коррумпированности президента РФ Владимира Путина, Боб Коркер подчеркнул, что народ России начинает понимать, что его лидер сосредоточил в своих руках огромное личное состояние. По словам законодателя, это может привести к дополнительной нестабильности в России. «Это невозможно сделать посредством нормальных действий государственного деятеля… Это может быть сделано в результате коррупции», – заявил Боб Коркер. «Я думаю, – уточнил он, – что со временем это сыграет дестабилизирующую роль для его режима».