BBG Watch Commentary
The White House has released yesterday (Thursday) a statement on the death of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner and dissident Liu Xiaobo, but the Voice of America (VOA) failed to report on it on its English news website. The statement, released by the White House press office said that “President Donald J. Trump was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and prominent Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo.” The statement continued: “The President’s heartfelt condolences go out to Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, and his family and friends. A poet, scholar, and courageous advocate, Liu Xiaobo dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty.”
Even though the White House issued its statement on Thursday, as of Friday, 11:30 AM EST, the poorly-managed, U.S. tax-funded ($220 million FY 2017) Voice of America has failed to post on its English website any news about President Trump’s reaction to Liu Xiaobo’s death and his condolences to his wife, Liu Xia, whom the Chinese communist authorities are holding under house arrest.
VOA English News reported earlier on that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for China to release Liu Xiaobo’s widow, Liu Xia, from house arrest. But VOA News did not give this news a separate headline. It was included in a VOA News report under the headline: “Rights Groups, Nobel Commission Express Regret Over Liu’s Death.”
An earlier VOA News report seemed to parrot some of Beijing’s propaganda against Liu Xiaobo by presenting out of context a remark made by his wife Liu Xia to prison guards.
SEE: Voice of America parrots Beijing propaganda with out-of-context Liu Xiaobo widow’s quote, BBG Watch, June 13, 2017.
In an earlier scandal, VOA’s senior management, led by VOA director Amanda Bennett, ordered shortening of a live interview with Chinese whistleblower Guo Wengui, which caused an angry reaction among the Chinese who follow VOA programs and resulted in a serious loss of VOA’s reputation in China.
SEE: Dr Sasha Gong and Huchen Zhang on VOA Guo Wengui Interview Controversy VIDEO, BBG Watch, June 15, 2017.
The Voice of America is managed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) described in 2013 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “practically defunct.”
In a rare comment from America’s top diplomat about increasing programming and management controversies at the Voice of America, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in response to a question from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) at a June 13, 2017 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he would support an investigation by the the Office of Inspector General of the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (OIG) of the VOA director’s decision to shorten an interview with a Chinese whistleblower, “if it would seem there has been anything improperly done.”
The Chinese government tried to influence VOA to cancel the entire interview, which was ultimately shortened on orders from VOA director Amanda Bennett. She denied that pressure from China or anything other than her concerns about journalistic ethics had influenced her decision. She placed five frontline VOA Mandarin Service journalists, including VOA Mandarin Service chief Dr. Sasha Gong, on administrative leave. Dr. Gong and some of her colleagues resisted the senior management’s decision to shorten the Guo Wengui interview, warning that such a decision would anger VOA radio listeners, TV viewers and Internet users in China.
In defending her decision on the Guo Wengui interview, Amanda Bennett said that she had received no instructions from the Trump administration to shorten the live interview which was promoted by the VOA Mandarin Service to last three hours in a combination TV and Facebook live streaming broadcast but was cut short after about one hour and fifteen minutes. Both Bennett and her boss, current BBG CEO John F. Lansing, are Obama administration holdover appointees.
WHITE HOUSE PRESS OFFICE STATEMENT
President Donald J. Trump was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and prominent Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. The President’s heartfelt condolences go out to Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, and his family and friends. A poet, scholar, and courageous advocate, Liu Xiaobo dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty.