BBG Watch Commentary EXCLUSIVE
U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA), managed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) federal agency, has allowed thousands of anti-gay comments to be posted on VOA websites and VOA social media pages, some of them calling for killing gays and other violent actions against the LGBT community worldwide.
The agency’s senior-level management, assisted by federal career mid-level managers who have been with the agency for many years, was appointed during the Obama administration and has not been replaced. The agency’s management has allowed such comments to be posted on VOA-controlled sites and social media pages despite warnings by critics that incitement to murder is unacceptable at a U.S. taxpayer-funded organization operated within the federal government and managed by U.S. federal government employees. Many private news media organizations in democratic countries have strict policies which prohibit posting calls to murder and violence against individuals and groups.
There are literally thousands of hate speech, anti-gay, anti-lesbian and anti-transgender comments currently posted on VOA social media pages which exist because U.S. taxpayers pay for them. These comments usually appear under VOA reports and their respective Facebook posts which are critical of anti-gay policies and practices in Africa, in the Middle East and in developing nations in other regions. The vast majority of comments under these reports are not only anti-gay but also strongly anti-Western and anti-American.
These comments on Voice of America controlled sites are not being removed by VOA management even when those who post them call for LGBT individuals to be murdered, mutilated, beaten, ridiculed and ostracized. VOA is therefore misleading foreign audiences unfamiliar with the United States that posting calls to murder online is an acceptable practice in democratic countries.
A few comments on the VOA Facebook page even called for gays to be exterminated in the manner of Hitler’s extermination of Jews during World War II. “The way Hitler wanted to wipe jews off the planet we shall do the same to gays in Africa,” [sic] a comment posted recently on the official VOA News Facebook page said.
“I hate gays:-! Kill them all,” [sic] “Kill them by fire” [sic] were some of the other among many anti-gay comments. The VOA Facebook post indicates that they were posted on May 31. As of 11:50 am ET, June 2, 2017, they are still posted on the VOA News official Facebook page.
We have checked on similar anti-gay comments posted on VOA official sites several weeks ago, including a call for murdering homosexuals and lesbians. They are still there. When it comes to VOA stories about gays, which admittedly are not anti-gay, the Voice of America has become a major platform for hate speech comments aimed against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. We are not aware of any other news organization in a democratic country that even comes close to VOA in the number and viciousness of such anti-LGBT comments.
The management of the Broadcasting Board of Governors agency and the Voice of America has been asleep at the wheel for a long time.
No one is suggesting that Obama administration officials still in charge of the Voice of America and the Broadcasting Board of Governors or other managers who have allowed hate speech comments to remain on VOA sites favor in any way violence against gays, but critics inside and outside of the agency, including members of both parties in the U.S. Congress, have accused them of being inexperienced and incapable of leading the agency and exercising effective managerial control on behalf of U.S. taxpayers. VOA’s FY 2017 budget is $221 million and BBG’s budget, including VOA’s budget, is $748 million.
Another recent scandal at the Broadcasting Board of Governors agency has led to a serious damage to VOA’s reputation in China when VOA senior executives and managers ordered a live interview with a Chinese whistleblower businessman to be shortened because they were apparently afraid that Chinese communist officials might be libeled with unproven allegations without being able to defend themselves in advance of the live interview. The VOA management said that it is only concerned about upholding the highest standards of journalism. They perhaps need to be told that advocating killing innocent persons is far worse than possibly offending a few corrupt communist officials.
WARNING: A SCREENSHOT POSTED BELOW FROM A VOA FACEBOOK PAGE COMMENT INCLUDES HATE SPEECH AND INCITEMENT TO MURDER — DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU MIGHT BE OFFENDED BY SUCH CONTENT. BBG Watch strongly condemns such comments. We decided to post some of them to show the dysfunctional state of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the Voice of America (VOA).
COMMENTS ON U.S. TAX-FUNDED VOICE OF AMERICA
One mid-level Voice of America manager admitted in 2015 that VOA gets “hundreds of extremely hateful comments about homosexuality.” He pointed out that in response to anti-gay comments “we don’t shut comments down.”
Even though pro-ISIS and pro-Kremlin trolls appear to be especially active on the Voice of America websites, Facebook pages and other VOA social media platforms, this is what the Voice of America manager wrote to VOA staffers in his language service:
VOICE OF AMERICA MANAGER: “When we receive hundreds of extremely hateful comments about homosexuality, we don’t shut comments down. When people rejoice over natural disasters (like tornadoes) in the United States that kill a dozen people, we don’t shut comments down. I am not promoting or defending these comments. I am as saddened, disappointed, and disgusted by them as the rest of us. But this is the nature of the beast with social media. And this is the US. We do not have European-style hate speech laws.”
“I do think we should warn our Facebook fans that if they post messages that advocate violence, they can be removed and banned from our page. Nico says he will post that tonight. If anyone sees a specific message that you believe crosses the line into violence, please let us know.”
READ MORE: Voice of America manager argues for keeping ‘hateful’ Facebook comments on U.S., France, and gays, BBG Watch, November 17, 2015.
This internal VOA memo was reportedly written in 2015. Since then thousands of anti-gay comments have been posted on Voice of America news sites and Facebook pages, many calling for killing gays. Many of these comments have not been removed.
Featured image: Chinese Americans stage a protest in May 2017 against censorship at the Voice of America by placing two large funeral wreaths and carrying a mock coffin in front of the VOA building in Washington, DC.