BBG Watch Commentary
Russia’s RT has Elie Wiesel’s death as its top news story since 4:46 PM ET. BBC and DW have also already reported even earlier on the death of an American Romanian-born Jewish writer Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Laureate. But as of 5:10 PM ET, Saturday, July 2, 2016, the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) is not yet reporting on Elie Wiesel’s death. Wiesel moved to the United States from Europe, and later become a U.S. citizen. In 1992, he received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Voice of America is overseen by the federal Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
UPDATE 5:20 PM ET: A VOA report on Elie Wiesel’s death has now appeared on the VOA website. Its time stamp is 5:14 PM ET, but at that time it was not yet seen on the VOA homepage. It may have appeared VOA’s main site shortly afterwards.
Here is the full text (272 words) of VOA’s report on Elie Wiesel’s death, as posted on VOA’s main site with the 5:14 PM ET time stamp:
Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Dies at 87 | VOA News
July 2, 2016, 5:14 PM ET
Elie Wiesel, who survived the hell of Nazi death camps to become a world-renowned author and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has died at his New York home at 87.
Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial announced his death Saturday but gave no details.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mourned the loss of Wiesel by saying he “gave expression to the victory of the human spirit over cruelty and evil.”
“In the darkness of the Holocaust, in which our sisters and brothers were killed, 6 million, Elie Wiesel served as a ray of light and example of humanity who believed in the goodness in people,” Netanyahu said.
The Romanian-born Wiesel was shipped off to the notorious Auschwitz death camp in 1944 along with most of his immediate family.
His parents and a sister were killed, but Wiesel survived Nazi brutality to start a career as a journalist.
A French writer persuaded him to tell his stories about the Holocaust, and Wiesel’s memoir, Night, was published in 1958. It has sold millions of copies in 30 languages and is required reading in many schools around the world and for anyone who wants to know about some of the darkest years of human history.
Wiesel wrote other Holocaust memoirs, along with works of fiction and nonfiction.
He won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize for speaking out against war, discrimination and suppression of human rights and for keeping memories of the Holocaust alive.
Wiesel was also awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French Legion of Honor Grand Cross, and he was knighted a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
RT had a report on Elie Wiesel at 4:46 PM ET, BBC and DW even earlier. RT report included a photo of Elie Wiesel with President Obama.
BBG Watch Featured Photo (above): President George W. Bush, joined by the Dalai Lama and Wiesel, Oct. 17, 2007, to the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., for the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama. There are also numerous public domain photos of Elie Wiesel with President Obama which VOA could have used but did not.
BBG WATCH UPDATE CONTINUES: Russia’s RT had a full story online with 600 words more than 30 minutes before VOA posted its own. The original VOA report had only 272 words.
Deutsche Welle’s report, which was posted earlier than the VOA report had 682 words, counting tweets. DW report included tweets from U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, the Israeli center for Holocaust research, Yad Vashem, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, Mitt Romney and Melinda Gates.
RT’s report had 600 words, counting tweets. It included a comment from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power who tweeted: “So saddened by Elie Wiesel’s death. By bearing witness, he revealed evil many avoided facing. By never giving up, he made this world better.” The original VOA report at 5:14 PM ET had no U.S. reactions to Elie Wiesel’s death even though he was an American citizen. RT reported that he had died in New York. RT also posted a photo of Elie Wiesel with President Obama, included tweets in reaction to the news and posted one of Wiesel’s better known quotes:
ELIE WIESEL: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”
The news of Elie Wiesel’s death has been on the web for about two hours. The New York Times reported on it an hour ago. BBC and DW have posted full reports more than an hour ago, as did Russia’s RT.
The White House issued President Obama’s statement on Elie Wiesel’s death at about 6:50 PM ET. It appears that VOA did not update its report until 8:05 PM and included only three sentences from President Obama’s statement under the reaction from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. It is now 1:00 AM, Sunday, July 3. VOA has not updated its Elie Wiesel report since then.
There is no photo of Elie Wiesel on VOA desktop homepage at 1:00 AM ET.
Incredibly, as of 1:00 AM ET the Elie Wiesel story is not listed at all on VOA’s USA News page on its full desktop website. It is now number 6 news item on the VOA’s mobile site USA News page and has already disappeared from the home page on VOA’s mobile site.
Deutsche Welle report on Elie Wiesel’s death, which was posted earlier than VOA’s report, which was posted at 5:14 PM ET, included these reactions, none of which appeared in VOA’s original report at 5:14 PM or its updated version at 8:05 PM ET.
On DW site:
Yad Vashem mourns the passing of Elie Wiesel-Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate, renowned author https://t.co/YhyhrvZqhl
— Yad Vashem (@yadvashem) July 2, 2016
On DW site:
— Heiko Maas (@HeikoMaas) July 2, 2016
On DW site:
I pray that the beacon that was Elie Wiesel will long guide us away from the shoals of hatred and racism.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 2, 2016
On DW site:
Deeply saddened by the passing of Elie Wiesel, who remained optimistic in the darkest days and pushed us to see beauty in humanity.
— Melinda Gates (@melindagates) July 2, 2016
On DW site:
So saddened by Elie Wiesel’s death. By bearing witness, he revealed evil many avoided facing. By never giving up, he made this world better.
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) July 2, 2016
None of these tweets were shown or mentioned in VOA’s 5:14 PM report or its 8:05 PM updated version.
Here is a tweet from President Obama which VOA could have and should have used but did not:
Elie Wiesel was a great moral voice of our time and a conscience for our world. He was also a dear friend. We will miss him deeply.
— President Obama (@POTUS) July 2, 2016
RT, which posted its report before VOA did and had more content than VOA, including a reaction from Ambassador Samantha Power, included a link to the video and text of Elie Wiesel Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. RT did not include any of its usual propaganda in its Elie Wiesel report. By being faster and more comprehensive than VOA, RT ensured that readers looking for the story came to see its site first and might return to it later. Readers who were looking for the story on the VOA site were initially disappointed and went looking somewhere else. What they got later was quite slim and did not include any U.S. reactions until much later and then it was only three sentences from President Obama’s statement.
In its 8:05 PM updated report, VOA used only 3 sentences from President Obama’s statement which was available to the media already at 6:50 PM. VOA did not do a separate report on President Obama’s statement and did not even advance his statement to the top of its report. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction in VOA’s 8:05 PM updated report comes before President Obama’s reaction.
Here is what VOA reported briefly:
President Barack Obama called Wiesel a dear friend who was “one of the great moral voices of our time.”
“He raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms,” Obama said. “He implored each of us, as nations and as human beings, to do the same, to see ourselves in each other and to make real the pledge of ‘never again.’ “
Here is full text of President Obama’s statement:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2016
Statement by the President on the Death of Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel was one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world. Tonight, Michelle and I join people across the United States, Israel and around the globe in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of a truly remarkable human being. Like millions of admirers, I first came to know Elie through his account of the horror he endured during the Holocaust simply because he was Jewish. But I was also honored and deeply humbled to call him a dear friend. I’m especially grateful for all the moments we shared and our talks together, which ranged from the meaning of friendship to our shared commitment to the State of Israel.
Elie was not just the world’s most prominent Holocaust survivor, he was a living memorial. After we walked together among the barbed wire and guard towers of Buchenwald where he was held as a teenager and where his father perished, Elie spoke words I’ve never forgotten – “Memory has become a sacred duty of all people of goodwill.” Upholding that sacred duty was the purpose of Elie’s life. Along with his beloved wife Marion and the foundation that bears his name, he raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms. He implored each of us, as nations and as human beings, to do the same, to see ourselves in each other and to make real that pledge of “never again.”
At the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that he helped create, you can see his words-“for the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” But Elie did more than just bear witness, he acted. As a writer, a speaker, an activist, and a thinker, he was one of those people who changed the world more as a citizen of the world than those who hold office or traditional positions of power. His life, and the power of his example, urges us to be better. In the face of evil, we must summon our capacity for good. In the face of hate, we must love. In the face of cruelty, we must live with empathy and compassion. We must never be bystanders to injustice or indifferent to suffering. Just imagine the peace and justice that would be possible in our world if we all lived a little more like Elie Wiesel.
At the end of our visit to Buchenwald, Elie said that after all that he and the other survivors had endured, “we had the right to give up on humanity.” But he said, “we rejected that possibility…we said, no, we must continue believing in a future.” Tonight, we give thanks that Elie never gave up on humanity and on the progress that is possible when we treat one another with dignity and respect. Our thoughts are with Marion, their son Shlomo Elisha, his stepdaughter Jennifer and his grandchildren whom we thank for sharing Elie with the world. May God bless the memory of Elie Wiesel, and may his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.
Here are two photos of Elie Wiesel with President Obama which VOA could have used but did not. There are many others.