BBG Watch Commentary

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki

In yet another one of its many news reporting failures, U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) failed to report so far today (as of 8:36 PM EDT, Friday, April 11, 2014) in English and most other VOA languages on State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki’s comments earlier today on the Russian Government’s recent decision to block continued Voice of America broadcasting in Russia. Other than VOA’s Russian Service, it appears that no other VOA news service reported that Washington has no plans to retaliate against Russian state media outlets, such as RT, for the Russian government’s decision to stop VOA rebroadcasts in Moscow. RT and Voice of Russia operate freely in the United States. Their programs can be rebroadcast on U.S. cable systems and on radio and TV stations under commercial arrangements with American media companies.

At her daily press briefing in Washington Friday, State Department spokesperson also made comments on “unprecedented censorship and restrictions on media and online publications” in Russia. VOA English News and the vast majority of VOA language services also failed to report these comments.

Jen Psaki said that there will not be any reciprocal action against Russia’s media outlets working in the United States. “We as a country that respects freedom of speech, that respects the rights of media, I don’t think that would be a particularly effective tool,” State Department spokesperson responded to a journalist’s question whether Washington would try to restrict Russia’s media operations in the United States.

The State Department press briefing was concluded at 1:36 PM EDT. Seven hours later, as of 8:36 PM EDT, Voice of America English news website has no report on Jen Psaki’s today’s comments regarding VOA broadcasting in Russia and Russian government’s restrictions on media.

The VOA Russian Service may have been the only VOA language service to post a report on the State Department statement: Госдепартамент осуждает прекращение вещания «Голоса Америки» в России, VOA Russian Service, April 11, 2014.

The VOA Ukrainian Service, which lacks sufficient staff, did not report on these State Department comments regarding VOA and censorship in Russia.

VOA English news website is often not updated after business hours and on weekends, although in this case the State Department briefing had concluded in early afternoon. VOA journalists blame bad management for the organization’s continued inability to cover important news.

Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 11, 2014

QUESTION: Russia has cut off Voice of America radio transmissions in Moscow by refusing to renew any broadcasting license for VOA. Do you have any reaction to that?

MS. PSAKI: I do. We condemn the Russian Government’s recent decision to block continued Voice of America broadcasting in Russia. In the last year the Russian Government has passed laws imposing unprecedented censorship and restrictions on media and online publications. In the past few months alone, it has blocked independent websites and blogs, turned wire services into a propaganda tool, denied visas and accreditation to foreign journalists, and forced leadership changes at several media outlets that dared to challenge Kremlin politics.

We support the rights of all people, including Russians, to exercise their right to free speech regardless of their political views. This right is enshrined in the Russian constitution as well as in international agreements to which Russia is a party. In recent months, Russia has spoken out to defend free speech in other countries. We call on them now to drop this obvious double standard and allow the same access to information for their people that it insists other nations provide.

QUESTION: Will there be any reciprocal action from your part? We know that Russia has media outlets working in the United States.

MS. PSAKI: No. Look, I think we as a country that respects freedom of speech, that respects the rights of media, I don’t think that would be a particularly effective tool.

QUESTION: And how will you react to this?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just reacted to it.

QUESTION: Only by condemning this action?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.

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