BBG Watch Commentary

The U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) has many journalists, editors, managers and executives who strongly dislike Donald Trump. Some VOA reporters have called him F-words (F*ckface Von Clownstick) on their personal but public Facebook pages and use even more obscene epithets to refer to him in daily conversations in the VOA Newsroom, according to their colleagues who object to such lack of professional behavior.

This may explain why after President Trump had announced his controversial decision on Jerusalem, VOA posted on Facebook five raw footage videos from various protests in the Muslim world without any explanation. The videos show anti-Trump slogans and a burning of his effigy. The posting of the large number of these one-sided Voice of America videos suggests at the very least a gross indifference on the part of VOA to the possibility that such journalistically unbalanced content might contribute to more extremism and violence. Graphic propaganda images presented by themselves without any balancing content could endanger the lives of Americans and Jews. VOA editors seem to have been more concerned about scoring points against Trump than in producing journalistically sound reports.

Many of these videos, which have no balance, no context and no journalistic analysis, show burning of U.S. and Israeli flags — a visual representation of “death to America” and “death to Israel.” This did not seem to bother VOA reporters and editors who saw no need to balance these raw footage videos by incorporating into them other points of view or objective analysis, as BBC and Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) have done, and as the VOA Charter requires them to do.

BBC and DW coverage of the protests was professional and balanced. Ines Pohl, DW’s Editor-in-Chief, even issued a special statement which was posted on the DW website, in which she said that the protesters who had burned the Israeli flag in Berlin were not using their rights to free speech; they were disrespecting fundamental German values. “Those who wish to live in Germany must accept its values,” Ines Pohl said. “That includes the country’s tough stance on anti-Semitism.”

SEE: Opinion: Burning the Israeli flag has nothing to do with freedom of speech | DW.

This kind of leadership has been missing from top executives of the Voice of America ($224 million in FY 2017) and its parent federal agency ($740 million, including VOA), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). Both VOA director Amanda Bennett and BBG CEO John F. Lansing are Obama administration holdover appointees.

In fact, by posting these raw videos, Voice of America reporters, editors and managers were following the example of Russia’s RT which had posted to Facebook numerous raw footage videos from the demonstrations in the Muslim world. The only difference between RT and the Voice of America was that RT’s videos were much longer than VOA videos.

What is even more disturbing is that these five VOA raw footage video posts with images of American and Jewish flags being burned and stomped on were by far the most popular videos on the VOA News Facebook page in the last ten days, from December 7 to December 17, 2017.

This raises questions of what kind of impact these videos have on those inclined to engage in violent acts against Americans and Jews. The most popular VOA News video in the last ten days, with more than 1,400,000 views, is Protests around the Muslim world over Jerusalem” | VOA.

Another BBG-managed media entity, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) posted two such videos and encouraged their sharing on social media. Unlike VOA raw footage videos, RFE/RL videos had a few captions of commentary but not much balance.

Popular RFE-RL Video Burning of U.S. and Israeli Flags Screen Shot 2017-12-17 at 4.04 PM ET

With over 10,000 Facebook views, the RFE/RL video of burning U.S. and Israeli flags was also one of the most popular in the last ten days on the RFE/RL Facebook page.

It appears, however, that Alhurra TV, also a BBG-managed media outlet of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), did not upload to Facebook raw videos showing burning of U.S. and Israeli flags. We were, however, not able to review Alhurra’s entire TV programming and all social media posts during the last ten days.





Clashes in Ramallah, Bethlehem” | VOA 486,000 Facebook Views as of Dec. 17.


Rallies in Pakistan condemning Pres. Trump declaring Jerusalem…” | VOA 785,000 Facebook Views as of Dec. 17.


Protests around the Muslim world over Jerusalem” | VOA 1,400,000 Facebook Views as of Dec. 17.


Scuffles in Jerusalem” | VOA 370,000 Facebook Views as of Dec. 17.


Israeli undercover forces arrest Palestinians during clashes” | VOA 360,000 Facebook Views as of Dec. 17.