BBG Watch Commentary

White House Meeting Readout Emailed May 6, 5.56PM EDT
White House Meeting Readout Emailed May 6, 5.56PM EDT

We were waiting for the proof to definitely determine what was the cause behind the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) not reporting on a meeting at the White House on May 6 between National Security Advisor Susan Rice and EU High Representative for foreign policy and security Catherine Ashton. They were joined during the meeting by President Obama.

SEE: Obama dropped by a White House meeting on Ukraine with Ashton – Voice of America failed to report, BBG Watch, May 7, 2014.

The cause of the Voice of America not reporting on this meeting between President Obama and EU foreign and security policy chief was that the White House did not release this information before 5PM. Shame on the White House for not considering VOA’s 9 to 5 schedule. The Voice of America did report on May 6 that Ashton had a meeting in Washington with Secretary of State John Kerry, but luckily for VOA’s oversees audiences that meeting took place during Washington business hours.

Despite the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s aggressive moves, Voice of America executives still have not been able to organize 24/7 VOA Newsroom watch for important U.S. news, originating from the White House and the State Department. It appears that after 5PM and on weekends no one at the VOA Newsroom is regularly monitoring White House Press Office emails, not to mention White House, State Department, and U.S. Congress websites and Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We are looking at these websites and U.S. government social media pages — not regularly because BBG Watch is a small volunteer operation — but we often learn about important U.S. news events and official statements hours before VOA reports on them, if it reports on them at all. Al Jazeera, BBC, China’s CCTV, Russia’s RT and Voice of Russia also have many of these reports from Washington hours before VOA does, or doesn’t. They frequently also devote more reporting to these Washington events and statements than VOA does, or doesn’t.

A White House email to reporters about the May 6 Rice-Ashton-Obama meeting was sent out, according to a White House timestamp, on “Tue, 06 May 2014, at 17:56:26” (5:56:26PM). Also on Tuesday evening, Ambassador Rice had a tweet about the meeting and even posted an official photo showing her, Catherine Ashton, and President Obama sitting at a conference table at the White House. No one at the Voice of America paid any attention because VOA executives have not made proper arrangements for covering U.S. / Washington news after business hours and on weekends.

VOA Ukrainian and Russian services also did not have this news on May 6. While these VOA language services are sometimes faster to report some Ukraine and Russia related news than the VOA English Newsroom, VOA executives have not given them adequate resources to regularly update their websites and social media pages.

The following tweet was posted by President Obama’s National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice. It was retweeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.

The usual excuse from VOA executives is the lack of resources, but they do have resources for their large bureaucratic staff of SESs and GS-15s, executive travel, and for producing their favorite non-news, non-VOA Charter related fluff journalism that is good for local placement in countries that censor political news: British royal family events, Justin Bieber’s arrests, and a bloodthirsty Uncle Sam zombie video for Pakistan.

No, the real reason for not covering real news 24/7 is that Voice of America executives just don’t know how to manage and have no respect for the VOA Charter.

Email from the White House Press Office showing that it was sent out shortly before 6PM on Tuesday, May 6.

Subject: Readout of National Security Advisor Rice’s Meeting with EU Vice President and High Representative Catherine Ashton

Date: Tue, 06 May 2014 17:56:26 -0500
From: White House Press Office
To: [deleted] CC:

Office of the Press Secretary
May 6, 2014

Readout of National Security Advisor Rice’s Meeting with EU Vice President and High Representative Catherine Ashton

The President joined National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s meeting with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton at the White House on May 6. During the meeting, they reaffirmed the shared U.S.-EU commitment to advancing the ongoing P5+1 negotiations with Iran and addressing the situation in Ukraine.

On Iran, they agreed that a comprehensive solution must assure the international community that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. The President underscored his support for the ongoing negotiations, and the importance of building on the progress of the Joint Plan of Action to develop the type of comprehensive solution that can give the international community confidence that Iran is meeting its obligations. The President noted the importance of the United States and European Union continuing to coordinate closely with one another and the other members of the P5+1 as negotiations move forward.

On Ukraine, they expressed continued U.S.-EU determination to support the government of Ukraine and to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis. They reiterated the need for Russia to live up to its Geneva commitments, including using its influence over armed separatists who are destabilizing eastern Ukraine to get them to disarm and engage peacefully in Ukraine’s political process. They agreed on the importance of the May 25 presidential elections, which will provide the Ukrainian people with a voice in the future of their country. They also agreed on the importance of imposing additional costs on Russia, should it continue its efforts to destabilize Ukraine.

Ambassador Rice also expressed condolences to the victims of the attack against the European Union delegation in Yemen and their families.



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