BBG Watch Commentary

Even Voice of Russia provided more substantial news reporting today on Obama-Hollande news conference than U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA), which as of 3:00 PM EST Tuesday had only this report on the news conference and failed to mention the NSA spying and gave little information on other issues both leaders addressed.

UPDATE: Eventually Voice of America posted a more substantive news report from its White House correspondent that mentioned the NSA spying and other issues in more detail. 

From VOA: Obama Welcomes France’s Hollande to White House

(Below is the text of the original VOA News report that stayed on the site as shown here for several hours Tuesday. The earlier version does not mention the NSA issue and contains very little other substantive details.)

VOA News

February 11, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama has praised the “enduring alliance” between France and the United States, while hosting French President Francois Hollande at the White House.

Obama says the two countries’ alliance “has never been stronger”, calling it “much deeper” than it was 20 years ago. Hollande added, the two countries’ “now trust each other in an unprecedented manner.”

Talks between the two leaders Tuesday covered Iran nuclear negotiations, Syria, counter-terrorism efforts in Africa, trade, economic issues, and climate change.

President Obama said the facts will guide the Iran nuclear negotiations.

“I do not think the concern during the course of these negotiations is whether or not we are going to be making too many concessions, I think the concern is going to be whether or not Iran can recognize the opportunity to prove in a verifiable fashion to the world in ways that scientist and technical experts can confirm that any nuclear program they have is for peaceful purposes,” said Presiddent Obama.

He warned sanctions will be tightened on Iran if its leaders do not resolve the nuclear conflict. He also added businesses that may be exploring possibilities to get into Iran before sanctions are lifted would be doing so “at their own peril.”

Obama is honoring Hollande later Tuesday with the first state dinner of his second term as president. The French president will travel to Silicon Valley in California on Wednesday.

Hollande arrived Monday for the first state visit by a French president since 1996.

Presidents Obama and Hollande traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia and Monticello, the 18th century mansion that was home to Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, principal drafter of the Declaration of Independence, and the second U.S. envoy to France from 1785 to 1789.

France supported the original 13 American colonies in their war for independence from Britain.

Compared to VOA, Voice of Russia gave a short but more substantive news report.

Hollande says trust restored with US after NSA scandal, Voice of Russia

Tue, Feb 11, 2014
Source: Voice of Russia (Russia)

From Voice of Russia: French President Francois Hollande Tuesday declared that confidence has been restored with Washington over revelations that the US intelligence system had spied on ordinary French citizens.

“We are making headway,” Hollande said during a press conference alongside US President Barack Obama after the two leaders conferred Tuesday morning. “Mutual trust has been restored.”

Hollande indicated that the principles of protecting private, personal data “are principles that unite us.”

Obama noted that he has publicly committed to extending the same privacy guarantees for American citizens to citizens of foreign countries, a gesture he called “unprecedented in terms of any country’s intelligence operations.”

Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) also posted a far more substantive news report than Voice of America.

Obama and Hollande talk Iran, Syria, NSA and friendship, DW

Tue, Feb 11, 2014
Source: DW (Germany)

From DW: At the press conference on Tuesday, Obama said that the United France and France had agreed on sanctions against Iran.

“President Hollande and I agree on the need to continue enforcing existing sanctions even as we believe that new sanctions during these negotiations would endanger the possibility of a diplomatic solution,” Obama said in the joint news conference with President Hollande. “And we remain absolutely united in our ultimate goal, which is preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama added.

“Following the revelations that appeared due to Mr. Snowden, we clarified things, President Obama and myself,” Hollande said, adding, “and then we endeavored toward cooperation.”

BBC likewise provided far more substance and information about today’s Hollande-Obama news conference than Voice of America.

White House fanfare for Hollande, BBC News

Tue, Feb 11, 2014
Source: BBC World News (UK)

Standing by his side, the French leader said they had resolved their issues over digital eavesdropping by the US National Security Agency.

Mr Obama announced he had accepted Mr Hollande’s invitation to go to France in June to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy during World War Two.

Mr Obama said that France and England were both outstanding European partners and, just like his two daughters, he would never choose between either country.

The Voice of America Charter says: “VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.” (Public Law 94-350)

All major international media outlets devoted far more attention to various substantive issues in U.S.-French relations, particularly to  NSA surveillance, VOA did not for many hours after the Hollande-Obama news conference.

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