USAGM WATCH COMMENTARY

A Voice of America (VOA) news reporter currently employed by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) who asked that we protect her identity sent to BBG – USAGM Watch her views on the current state of management of VOA and its parent $800 million (annual) federal agency. The reporter, who has many years of experience in broadcast, print and online journalism, expressed disappointment that The Washington Post, which vigorously defended VOA Director Amanda Bennett, failed in its journalistic duty to report at the same time on multiple programming and management scandals under Ms. Bennett’s watch and did not disclose her past links with the paper. The VOA reporter who contacted BBG – USAGM Watch does not want to use her name in public because she is afraid that the current VOA management would retaliate against her.

The Washington Post was previously owned by Ms. Bennett’s husband’s family and it used to publish her op-eds. In another past link with VOA, the paper previously employed Bennett’s current VOA deputy Sandy Sugawara. The Washington Post did not disclose these past links. It also did not mention Bennett’s husband’s reported business interests in communist China.

SEE: Trump’s attack on the VOA reeks of McCarthyism, Colbert I. King, The Washington Post, April 18, 2020.

SEE: White House attacks Voice of America, claiming it promoted Chinese propaganda, Paul Farhi, The Washington Post, April 10, 2020

SEE: No, Mr. Trump, VOA is not Chinese propaganda. Now don’t turn it into U.S. propaganda. Editorial Board, The Washington Post, April 10, 2020

SEE: White House slams Voice of America, VOA fights back, The Washington Post, April 10, 2020

The VOA reporter noted various scandals within the Voice of America and the U.S. Agency for Global Media in recent years under former (from 2015 until September 2019) USAGM CEO John Lansing and under Amanda Bennett’s watch; criticism from the White House that “Amid a Pandemic, Voice of America Spends Your Money to Promote Foreign Propaganda;” “A Statement from VOA Director Amanda Bennett” defending her role at VOA; and President Trump’s comments at his April 15, 2020 White House press briefing that some of the Voice of America reporting is “disgusting” and “a disgrace”

Isn’t the scandal of senior strategy officer to former Agency head John Lansing going to federal prison for stealing money from the Agency disgusting and disgraceful? 

Isn’t the scandal of multiple Voice of America Hausa Service journalists taking bribes from a Nigerian politician disgusting and disgraceful?  [BBG – USAGM Watch note: These journalists were fired, but such a scandal occurring at VOA is unprecedented.”]

Isn’t the firing by senior VOA and Agency leaders of Chinese-American anti-communist Mandarin Service chief Dr. Sasha Gong who wanted to broadcast in full an interview with a Chinese whistleblower disgusting and disgraceful? 

Aren’t VOA broadcasts to Iran described in the [2017] American Foreign Policy Council study as “perpetuating to audiences the appearance of pro-regime propaganda rather than objective reporting” disgusting and disgraceful? 

Aren’t meetings of VOA Director and other VOA managers with corrupt politicians abroad disgusting and disgraceful? 

And the list goes on…

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