BBG Watch Commentary
A news analysis in The Washington Post cited from a Voice of America (VOA) report which compared President Donald Trump to 20th century mass murderers — Lenin, Stalin, and Mao — because of Trump’s tweet in which he accused “fake media” of being “enemy of the American people.”
The one-sided Voice of America report did not offer any evidence for its poorly informed international and increasingly U.S. audience (thanks to the Internet) that President Trump was actually planning or is even remotely likely to arrest journalists, create concentration camps and murder millions of Americans, but this did not prevent The Washington Post from quoting from the VOA report and reinforcing in the United States and to some degree abroad where Washington Post articles are also read that Donald Trump is a potential dictator and possibly a future mass murderer. To prove their point that Donald Trump’s comment about media being biased could be compared to Stalin’s comments that led to his mass killing purges, Voice of America used a link to the Russian propaganda channel’s RT RUSSIAPEDIA.
But while The Washington Post is a private media corporation and has the right to post whatever it wants as long as it makes a profit, the Voice of America is funded by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of $224 million (FY 2017). U.S. taxpayers and the U.S. Congress expect VOA staff reporters, who are salaried federal government employees, to be objective and to uphold the highest standards of journalism. Most of The Washington Post‘s U.S. readers understand that martial law is not about to be introduced in the United States tomorrow. The same cannot be said of VOA’s overseas audiences exposed to anti-American propaganda from other countries. The VOA report’s attempt to misuse historical facts to draw erroneous historical parallels about political leaders and political systems diametrically different from each other as to create doubts about the essential strength of American democracy is deeply worrying no matter what one may think about President Trump.
The Voice of America report and The Washington Post analysis did not explain why President Trump and most Americans do not trust the mass media. The Voice of America also did not admit in its report that at least some VOA reporters and editors posted hit pieces during the 2016 campaign not only against Trump but also against Bernie Sanders. A journalist who was a Senator Sanders’ supporter described such VOA conduct as “state media bias.”
VOA management and key editors and reporters were so confident of Hillary Clinton’s victory that on the election night VOA had two “Hillary Wins” broadcasts already pre-written and none for Trump. Their campaigning for Hillary Clinton on social media and in Voice of America content violated the VOA Charter. This U.S. law requires VOA-produced content to be balanced. In a blatant display of unprofessional bias, some VOA reporters also posted obscene Donald Trump memes on social media, called him “A Joke” and even used an “F-word” to describe him in personal Facebook post which was publicly accessible. Some VOA government employees also made fun of Mr. Trump’s wife and daughter at a public employee holiday party organized on government time in a federal building. Not even journalists working for the most liberal media outlets in the United States could get away with such unprofessional conduct reflecting on the credibility of the organizations they work for. Such accountability does not exist within the Voice of America and its parent federal agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). These federal government managers and journalists are regularly praised by VOA and BBG senior leaders and given more responsible and more prestigious assignments.
Here is the reference to the Voice of America report used by The Washington Post:
For foes of Joseph Stalin, being branded an enemy of the people was a death sentence. The Soviet leader deployed that language against politicians and artists he didn’t like. Once branded, the accused were sent to labor camps or killed. Best case? An enemy would be denied education and employment. “It is one of the most controversial phrases in Soviet history,” Mitchell Orenstein, professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania, told Voice of America
“For both Lenin and Stalin, journalists and intellectuals who didn’t share their point of view were among the most hated enemies,” University of Washington professor Serhiy Yekelchyk told VOA. “In attacking them, both appealed to the people.”
READ MORE: Trump called the news media an ‘enemy of the American People.’ Here’s a history of the term. By Amanda Erickson, The Washington Post, February 18, 2017.
The Washington Post also uses comparisons to Hitler and Goebbels.
Several VOA journalists and managers have past personal and professional connections to The Washington Post, but we don’t know how the paper’s analyst became aware of the one-sided VOA commentary masquerading as a news report and a history lesson.
According to their bios posted on the Broadcasting Board of Governors and Voice of America websites, VOA Director Amanda Bennett used to write for The Washington Post and is married to the paper’s former owner. VOA Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara is a former Washington Post correspondent and editor. They report to Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO John Lansing. Before these VOA and Washington Post articles were published but after numerous one-sided anti-Trump reports were posted on VOA websites and obscene memes were posted on social media, Mr. Lansing told NPR earlier this month that his agency has “the greatest respect” for the President.