BBG Watch Commentary

John Kerry
John Kerry

The Voice of America (VOA) English news website has hidden U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s last night’s statement on Ukraine so well, it is almost impossible to find. It never appeared on homepage of the main VOA English news website.

A short excerpt from his statement was included inside a VOA report on a police action against demonstrators in Kyiv that soon became outdated but was not changed by VOA all night. Earlier this week, the VOA English news website failed to report at all on Vice President Biden’s phone call to Ukraine’s President Yanukovych.

We are not arguing for VOA to become a mouthpiece for any U.S. administration or for running any administration statements in full, but for reporting important news and giving it prominence that such news deserve.

A statement by the Secretary of State on a major news event unfolding in an important country, which Russia is preventing from joining Europe, is not something that should be hidden inside the VOA website and be almost impossible to find while peaceful demonstrators are being attacked. A phone call from the Vice President to the President of Ukraine should be reported on VOA’s main news website. BBC, the Voice of Russia, and Russia Today did report on the Biden-Yanukovych phone call.

Fortunately, the VOA Ukrainian Service posted a report on Secretary Kerry’s statement prominently on its homepage. The VOA Russian Service did as well. But the VOA English Service and the vast majority of VOA’s other 43 language services did not.

What a shame. It is the fault of VOA top executives.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) services, on the other hand, are providing outstanding live coverage from Ukraine. Both VOA and RFE/RL report to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which according to our sources is working on management reforms at the Voice of America.

Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release December 10, 2013

Statement by Secretary Kerry

Statement on Events in Ukraine

The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv’s Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity. This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy.

Last week in Brussels and Moldova, I underscored publicly the importance of all sides avoiding violence and called on President Yanukovych to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. We put the government on notice about our concern.

As Vice President Biden made clear to President Yanukovych during their phone call yesterday, respect for democratic principles, including freedom of assembly, is fundamental to the United States’ approach to Ukraine. This is a universal value not just an American one. For weeks, we have called on President Yanukovych and his government to listen to the voices of his people who want peace, justice and a European future. Instead, Ukraine’s leaders appear tonight to have made a very different choice.

We call for utmost restraint. Human life must be protected. Ukrainian authorities bear full responsibility for the security of the Ukrainian people.

As church bells ring tonight amidst the smoke in the streets of Kyiv, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine. They deserve better.