BBG Watch Commentary
Voice of America (VOA) has removed from the web its special project “Trump Inauguration Bingo” after BBG Watch exposed it as a further evidence of some VOA reporters, editors and managers continuing to mock President Trump, his wife, his children and his supporters. The link to the “Trump Bingo” was prominently featured on VOA English News homepage on the presidential inauguration day. This special project, as well as VOA’s entire budget ($224 million in FY 2017) are funded U.S. taxpayers. The link to “Trump Bingo” on the VOA website is no longer active.
SEE: Voice of America Takes a Barb at President with Humiliating Trump Inauguration Bingo, BBG Watch, January 20, 2017.
A frequent outside commentator who participated in VOA opinion programs during the 2016 presidential election campaign, tweeted: “Starts to rain as #trump speaks #inauguration God is crying.”
A VOA foreign language reporter reposted on Facebook a French Charlie Hebdo cartoon showing President Trump contemplating choices on a drink dispensing machine: “Expresso,” “Chocolat Chaud,” “Cafe Sans Sucre,” and in biggest letters next to a button, “BOMBE H,” a reference to a nuclear bomb.
A VOA producer used in a Facebook post on the presidential inauguration day almost the same exact expression quoted in an email to staff during the election campaign last summer by VOA director Amanda Bennett when she highly praised a one-sided Spanish Service report in which an illegal immigrant accused Donald Trump of “hate and prejudice.”
But in an email message to staff sent on Monday, Bennett wrote: “I am proud to be here. Proud of our mission to provide the highest standard of objective, reliable, independent news and information. I am proud of the work you all do every day.”
Many of the agency’s critics, including some of the best current and former VOA reporters, view Bennett and her boss, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO John Lansing as lacking experience, skills and leadership to run what is widely perceived in Congress on both sides of the aisle as a dysfunctional federal agency. (Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called BBG “practically defunct.”)
Neither Bennett nor Lansing has had any prior U.S. government, U.S. foreign policy or U.S. public diplomacy experience.
Matt Armstrong, a Republican member of the BBG Board, which has now been reduced in a bipartisan legislation to only an advisory role, sent a resignation letter to President Trump Monday, in which he said that he can no longer be held accountable for the actions of a Chief Executive Officer over which the BBG Board has no effective authority.
Congressional sources told BBG Watch that Armstrong informed contacts on the Hill that BBG CEO John Lansing has shown disregard for the recommendations, concerns, and requests of Members of the Board, and has willfully withheld information from the Board.
The “Trump Bingo” was not even the worst example of extreme bias and partisanship which became highly visible in VOA programs during the joint Lansing-Bennett watch.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, also in response to a BBG Watch article, the management removed a VOA foreign language service video in which Donald Trump was called ““punk,” “dog,” “pig,” “con,” “buls**t artist,” “mutt,” “idiot,” “fool,” “bozo,” and “blatantly stupid.” VOA did not attach to the video a rebuttal or a response of any kind.
Also for the first time in VOA’s history, a VOA reporter used an F-word in a public forum to condemn a presidential candidate and now U.S. president Donald Trump. The VOA reporter called Trump “F*ckface Von Clownstick.” The same VOA reporter also posted on a personal but publicly accessible Facebook page a meme showing Donald Trump’s face with a Nazi swastika and another meme depicting Mr. Trump as a sexual organ. Bennett’s belated email to staff warning about inappropriate social media comments has been widely ignored.
Several VOA newsroom reporters also ridiculed the then President-elect Trump and made fun of his wife and daughter at a holiday party skit which they performed at the VOA building. At least one VOA staffer live- streamed the anti-Trump jokes, including a sex joke about the future First Lady Melania Trump and comments demeaning Ivanka Trump.
Many other VOA journalists were appalled by the sexist and inappropriate behavior of their colleagues, the damage they have caused to VOA’s reputation, and the lack of effective management and leadership of the agency.
Photo: VOA Director Amanda Bennett.