BBG Watch History Commentary
U.S. taxpayer-funded Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA) did not have any substantive reports or analyses today online in English (as of 2 pm ET; 8 pm Budapest) on the 60th anniversary of the start of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the brutal suppression of the Hungarian freedom movement by Soviet troops. RFE/RL, however, did post a photo gallery devoted to the Hungarian Revolution. As of 3 pm, Sunday, October 23, RFE/RL Facebook post on the Hungarian anniversary was showing over 4 thousand likes, over 3.5 thousand shares and over 100 comments.
RFE/RL and VOA are managed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). In 2013, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the BBG as “practically defunct.” Managerial and editorial chaos at the agency has increased in recent months.
ALSO SEE: Voice of America airs allegation dismissed as a lie by Senator Reid’s office, BBG Watch, October 19, 2016.
Voice of America English news web site marked recently the 40th anniversary of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong’s death with a report that ignored his crimes. VOA Russian Service posted a video on the anniversary of the start of World War II which ignored the Nazi-Soviet alliance and the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland. VOA also ignored Vice President Biden’s September 24 speech in Riga at at the National Library of Latvia, where he talked at length about historical events that the Russian government’s propaganda is trying to distort.
Radio Liberty and VOA Russian services posted today short reports on the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Both reports presented an accurate history of the Soviet invasion of Hungary, but they offered little analysis.
For an in-depth analysis typical of what RFE/RL used to offer in the past, see an article by A. Ross Johnson, Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution; Adviser to the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Project, Hoover Archives; former Director, Radio Free Europe. This article was originally published in the Hoover Digest (2016 No. 4).
“Looking Back at the Cold War: 1956,” By A. Ross Johnson, Wilson Center, Cold War International History Project, October 21, 2016
VOA Ukrainian Service had nothing online today on the Hungarian uprising and its suppression by Moscow despite current Russian military occupation of Crimea and continuing aggression in eastern Ukraine.
RFE/RL Ukrainian Service posted a report on the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.
While the RFE/RL 1956 Hungarian Revolution photo gallery captions were generally historically accurate, it was “history light” that failed to explore all the issues, such as the lack of any Western support or even response to the Soviet invasion of Hungary.
The 1956 Hungarian Revolution was also not “the first tear” in the Iron Curtain, as the RFE/RL photo gallery, “Budapest: 60 Years After The Uprising” suggested, since the 1953 workers’ uprising in East Germany and the the Poznań 1956 workers’ protests in Poland came first.
The RFE/RL photo gallery said nothing about still controversial charges that Radio Free Europe may have encouraged the Hungarian freedom fighters to continue their armed resistance by promising Western help that was not going to materialize.
The RFE/RL Hungarian Revolution photo gallery, however, was not as bad as another RFE/RL photo gallery, “‘Still Much To Say’: Remembering The Massacre At Babi Yar.” In criticizing the RFE/RL Babi Yar photo gallery, an anonymous RFE/RL journalist wrote: “Such dumbing down of terribly painful and relatively recent human catastrophes shows how low the intellectual level has become at a radio station once known for its exquisite and influential analysis of past and present events.”
Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) had one report and one video, both in English, on today’s observances in Hungary of the anniversary of the 1956 anti-communist and anti-Soviet uprising.
Hungary commemorates 1956 uprising | DW NEWS;
Protesters jeer as Orban recalls Hungary’s 1956 uprising | DW NEWS.
Russia’s RT and SPUTNIK ignored on their English-language news websites the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
The Voice of America also had nothing on its main English news website on the anniversary or its observances in Hungary today.
BBC News English website did not show any reports today from Hungary, but BBC Russian Service had two long reports:
Чего вы, возможно, не знали о венгерских событиях 1956 года | BBC Russian
Венгры освистали своего премьера на митинге в память о восстании 1956 года | BBC Russian
A VOA reporter who does not want to be identified by name told us: “Such anniversaries and other historic events need attention and preparation well ahead of the anniversary date. Unfortunately, the Agency and the Voice of America Newsroom have leaders and managing editors who neither manage nor give editorial guidance.”
Featured Photo by Házy Zsolt – FOTO:Fortepan — ID 12830: , CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
The following text was written by Ann Lau, Chair, Visual Artists Guild.
In Memoriam: 1956 Hungarian Freedom Fighters
October 23, is the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution.
Having just returned from my first visit to Hungary, this anniversary carries a special poignancy to me.
Visiting Budapest’s University of Technology where the Freedom Manifesto was written, the Radio building where the Manifesto was announced and the Parliament square where the massacre of October 25, 1956 occurred, reminds us that the human desire for freedom can never be extinguished.
For the Hungarian Revolution, parallels to China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement and its subsequent Tiananmen massacre on June 4 are unmistakeable. Both protests were started by students and subsequently spread to all walks of life and to the rest of the country. Both ended in tragedy with tanks rolling into the city. Yet both inspired generations to come.
The Hungarian Revolution brought forth the Prague Spring of 1968 no matter how short lived and the formation of Solidarity in Poland in 1980.
China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement though crushed, nevertheless led the water shed changes in eastern Europe that year.
History does not happen in a vacuum. In 1956, China’s Mao Zedong had urged Khrushchev to send in the troops to Budapest to put down the revolution just as in 1989 when Burma’s military dictator advised China’s Deng Xiaoping to use force against the student demonstrators in Beijing.
The Hungarians in Hungary refer to the period of Communist rule as the Communist Era. I had asked a Chinese friend when can the Chinese people refer to this current period as the Communist Era? He responded it would be soon and that he would call it the Period of Tyranny.
To the Hungarian Freedom Fighters who are with us now, to those who had passed from us and to those who sacrificed their lives so others may have freedom, we honor you and thank you.
May the Hungarian Revolution be not just the beginning of the end of Communist tyranny in Eastern Europe but will soon be the end of Communist tyranny in China as well.
Chair, Visual Artists Guild
A Commemoration will be held at MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 23. (corner of S. Park View St and W 6th Street)
In 2006 Visual Artists Guild honored twelve Hungarian Freedom Fights at the 17th Tiananmen Commemoration event. Among those honored were John Dolinsky, Julius Jancso, Laszlo Sandor and others. Eva Szorenyi could not attend that year and was honored in 2007 and also had her 90th birthday celebration at the event.
Visual Artist Guild 2006 honor Hungarian Freedom Fighters
C’mon. VOA News – such as it is – is NEWS. It’s not the History Channel. Just because it does not mark every anniversary of 70 or 80 years ago to satisfy Ted Lipien’s anti-Russian/anti-Soviet stance does not delegitimize it. It just means that VOA has better things to do with limited resources than to mark every milepoint in history to make a right-wing political point.
We wish it were true that VOA News is nothing but News, but it is not. Vice President Joe Biden can hardly be accused of being a “right-wing” politician, but when he makes an important speech on history and current U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, VOA still fails to report it. Any one of these VOA animal videos took more time, money and other resources to produce than it would take for VOA to report on what the Vice President had to say recently about … yes … HISTORY, ANNIVERSARIES … and Russia. The 60 anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution is no exception. It is highly relevant to today’s news.
Deutsche Welle (DW) had a report on October 23: “Protesters jeer as Orban recalls Hungary’s 1956 uprising” | DW and added a video on how Hungary commemorated the 1956 revolution.
“Hungary commemorates 1956 uprising” | DW Video
If VOA News has time and taxpayers money to post online videos on fat American cats, a candidate for a political office being called a “pig,” a python in India suffering from indigestion–than perhaps VOA could also find a time an money to post something in English on the observances and the significance of the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, considering that history is repeating itself with the Russian occupation of Crimea and military intervention in eastern Ukraine.
If VOA has time to report on zoo animals in Italy eating watermelons on a hot summer day, then perhaps it could find time to report on Vice President Biden’s speech in Latvia which dealt with Russia.
Here are some examples of what VOA and BBG management thinks is news and worthy of spending U.S. taxpayers’ money to produce.
“U.S. taxes at work at Voice of America – VOA journalist speaks out about inexperienced leaders and poor morale“
"How do you call Trump a pig in Ukrainian? Voice of America will tell you"
VOA Ukrainian Service Facebook Video De Niro Calling Trump Pig Screenshot 2016-10-12 at 1.14 AM ET
"45% of visits to Voice of America English website are from the U.S. – EXCLUSIVE"
Screenshot from Voice of America video which was removed after criticism from VOA journalists and BBG Watch.
"BBG admitted VOA buys Facebook ‘Likes’ with ads EXCLUSIVE"
"Voice of America workers complain about more ‘ungrammatical dumb videos’"
Wow. I mean, WOW!
This quote says it all: “Just because it does not mark every anniversary of 70 or 80 years ago to satisfy Ted Lipien’s anti-Russian/anti-Soviet stance does not delegitimize it. It just means that VOA has better things to do with limited resources than to mark every milepoint in history to make a right-wing political point.”
Sure, Contraian, why would VOA, which, btw, still means VOICE OF AMERICA, mark “every anniversary of 70 or 80 years ago”? If, for someone like you, the memory of the Hungarian Revolution is just some some anniversary, it looks like you’ve missed the whole point of America’s efforts to promote and protect democracy and free speech. In your opinion, do you think that Reuters, which is, fyi, a NEWS agency, not a right wing outlet, shouldn’t have marked the event with this excellent report which ties it to today’s situation of the migrants who are seeking shelter in Hungary?
And, btw, sorry to ask: since when is being against the Putin regime’s violation of international law and blatant aggression “anti-Russian”?
Probably reading more history instead of watching videos about fat cats getting fatter would help you understand the present a little better.
Question for RFE/RL: Why isn’t there an option to comment on your stories on your very expensive webpage? Anything to be afraid of? Not too many comments, probably?
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