BBG Watch Commentary
Russia’s propaganda media outlet RT was not the only one to fan flames of anti-Americanism over President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem. U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA), part of the dysfunctional Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) $740 million (FY 2017) federal agency, was even more brazen in its one-sided, no balance, no U.S. views and no broader context coverage of anti-American and anti-Israel protests in the Middle East. VOA’s coverage was in this case even more one-sided than RT’s propaganda reporting, which was also largely anti-American.
SEE: RT and Voice of America both fanned anti-U.S. flames after Trump’s Jerusalem decision, BBG Watch, December 11, 2017.
Since some Voice of America reporters, editors and executives have been frequently referring to Trump in emails, in daily VOA Newsroom conversations, in memes and social media posts, as a man of “hate and prejudice,” “f*uck cheeto with hair,” “f*cking Trumpy,” and “F*ckface Von Clownstick,” they seem to have no problem posting online one-sided news videos with hate signs not only against Trump but also against the United States, Israel, and American flag — as long as these VOA videos, devoid of any context or a variety of American opinions on the situation in the Middle East, present Trump in the worst possible light.
However, according to BBG CEO John Lansing, who is the boss of VOA director Amanda Bennett, BBG employees “have the greatest respect for whoever is the President,” or at least that is what Lansing told NPR last February.
Both Lansing and Bennett are Obama administration holdovers. Neither had any prior experience in managing federal government workforce or being in charge of U.S. public diplomacy and/or U.S. government information programs.
We are not saying that VOA should not have reported on the widespread protests against President Trump’s decision. VOA should have reported on them, but in each case, whether in VOA reports or in online videos, it should have been done in a serious, balanced and comprehensive manner, as required by the VOA Charter, which is U.S. law. VOA reporters are U.S. government employees.
Some of these senior VOA reporters and editors, not to mention VOA and BBG executives, are drawing six-figure federal salaries. They should obey U.S. law, including the VOA Charter.
Even some of Russia’s RT reports on the reactions to President Trump’s Jerusalem decision, while scoring the usual anti-American propaganda points, had more balance and reflected more of U.S. and Israeli views than many of the Voice of America news videos and reports.
Many of VOA news videos on anti-American and anti-Israel protests in the Middle East last week and over the weekend were completely one-sided. These VOA videos fanning flames of anti-Americanism, as well as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred, were also by far the most popular on Facebook among VOA news videos in the last few days.
We wonder whether this is what VOA director Amanda Bennett and BBG CEO John Lansing call “high impact” of U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America news programs. If this is impact then it is impact in fanning flames of anti-Americanism and hatred with constantly repeated images of torching of U.S. and Israeli flags with no additional context or balance.
Most VOA news content on social media gets hardly any audience engagement. One-sided VOA video, “Protests around the Muslim world over Jerusalem | VOA,” posted last Friday, was showing 928K views, 24K Likes and 28K Shares as of Monday, December 11, 2017, 6:30 PM ET.
Another one-sided VOA video, “Rallies in Pakistan condemning Pres. Trump declaring Jerusalem… | VOA,” posted on Thursday, was showing 700K Views, 18K Likes, and 11K Shares as of Monday, December 11, 2017, 6:30 PM ET.
These VOA videos showing burning of American and Israeli flags and demonstrators shouting death to America and to Israel are extremely popular among of VOA’s international audiences. A VOA news report posted a week ago, “Pope meets Rohingya refugees in Dhaka | VOA” that actually dealt with true violations of human rights and freedom, which VOA should be focusing on as part of the BBG’s core mission, was showing only 74K Views, 2K Likes and 254 Shares as of Monday.
It seems that at least some VOA and BBG reporters and officials have discovered that anti-American and anti-Israeli hatred is a powerful click bait worth discarding the VOA Charter (U.S. Public Law 94-350) which mandates among other things that:
VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.
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.
VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.
We would not be at all surprised if the Broadcasting Board of Governors used additional U.S. taxpayer dollars to boost the viewership of these anti-American Voice of America videos with paid Facebook ads.