BBG Watch Commentary

The headline on the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) English News website read: “Syrian Refugee Killed in Blast in Germany, 12 Wounded” | VOA, which many could have misinterpreted as suggesting that some unfortunate refugee was perhaps a victim of a racist attack in Germany. The headline appeared on VOA’s main English homepage with no further details without clicking to see the story inside, which was quite short but painted a different picture of what might have happened.

There have been many reported earlier attacks by right-wing Germans on refugees and their homes in Germany, as well as reports of refugees sexually molesting German girls and women. In the wake of these sexual attacks, Germany’s lower house of Parliament passed legislation to broaden the legal definition of rape, a story never reported by VOA, but carried by BBC, DW–“‘No means no’: Germany broadens definition of rape under new law” | DW, July 7, 2016–and other media. VOA posted recently two reports on attacks on refugees in Germany: “Syrian Refugees in Germany Grapple With Anti-Immigrant Attacks” | VOA News, July 8, 2016 and “Refugee Story: Hunted at Home, Beaten Abroad” VOA News, July 12, 2016. These two VOA reports on reprehensible and inexcusable violence against refugees made no mention of rapes, terrorism or any other crimes that may have been committed by refugees. While no crime justifies violence against innocent civilians, the two VOA reports did not discuss the larger political and social controversy in Germany over the refugee issue. Some visitors to the Voice of America website could have easily assumed based on previous VOA reporting in recent days and the misleading Sunday headline that yet another crime was committed against innocent refugees in Germany.

Voice of America, as usual, was a few hours behind BBC, Russia’s RT and SPUTNIK, and Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) in reporting on the German blast story, as well as on the earlier story Sunday of a machete-wielding Syrian refugee who had killed a woman and wounded two other people in an attack in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart, Germany.

The very short Voice of America news report did not have many details, which BBC, DW, RT, SPUTNIK and many other media provided, but it was obvious even from the VOA report that contrary to what the VOA headline may have suggested, the Syrian refugee was not a victim but rather the perpetrator of the blast.

The number of one-sided, one-dimensional and politicized Voice of America English news reports has increased rather than decreased since new VOA director Amanda Bennett and her deputy Sandy Sugawara came on board several months ago, although quite a few excellent and multi-dimensional reports were also posted during the same time by some of the better and more experienced VOA reporters. Director Bennett praised some of the better reports, but she alsopraised a one-sided report that violated the VOA Charter while at the same time promising to conduct anti-bias training and expressing strong support for the Charter, which is U.S. public law. The VOA Charter says that “VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.” [Emphasis added.]

The BBC headline read: “Germany blast: Syrian migrant ‘behind Ansbach explosion'” | BBC

The DW headline read: “Syrian man denied asylum killed in ‘intentional’ blast near Ansbach music festival” | DW

The RT headline read: “27-yo Syrian refugee behind Ansbach blast previously attempted suicide – Bavarian authorities” | RT with added RT Breaking News headline:

RT Germany Bomb Blast Breaking News Headline Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 12:30 AM ET
RT Germany Bomb Blast Breaking News Headline Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 12:30 AM ET

Only the Voice of America headline read:

“Syrian Refugee Killed in Blast in Germany, 12 Wounded” | VOA

is misleading, or at best highly ambiguous.

VOA Report Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 12:38 AM ET
VOA Report Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 12:38 AM ET

VOA News

Last updated on: July 24, 2016 11:44 PM

A Syrian migrant was killed when a bomb he was carrying exploded Sunday near a music festival in the Bavarian town of Ansbach, near Nuremberg, officials say. Twelve people were wounded in the blast.

Authorities say the explosion was “intentional” and that the man had tried to commit suicide a few times before Sunday’s explosion.

He was denied asylum last year, but was allowed to remain in Germany temporarily.

The blast prompted the evacuation of more than 2,000 people from the music festival.

Earlier Sunday, a machete-wielding Syrian refugee killed a woman and wounded two other people in an attack in the southwestern city of Reutlingen, near Stuttgart.

Germany is still on edge after the killing of nine people by an 18-year-old Iranian-German gunman in Munich Friday.