BBG Watch Commentary
While a recent Voice of America (VOA) report, School Rape Case Fuels Myth that Immigrants are Dangerous | VOA News, was correct in stating that some conservative U.S. media outlets have been exploiting the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by an illegal immigrant enrolled in the same school in Maryland, most readers of the VOA report who have left comments concluded that VOA was also exploiting the same rape story to score partisan points and that VOA showed no sympathy for the young female victim. Comments left under the report on the VOA news website leave no doubt that readers saw it as flawed and biased reporting by the U.S. taxpayer-funded news outlet ($224 million in FY 2017) which by law must be an objective and balanced source of news, in addition to presenting clearly official U.S. policies — none of which was done in this case by VOA.
The Voice of America failed to report that the rape victim was herself an immigrant and also that, unlike her attacker, she was a legal immigrant. But above all, no woman who had been a victim of rape would want to read a report about her horrific ordeal written in a way the VOA report was written. VOA should be ashamed of this news story, which was late, outdated, biased, partisan, and brutally insensitive toward the victim of rape and all girls and women.
It is true that studies have shown that immigrants in general commit fewer crimes than native-born U.S. citizens and this should have been and was reported by VOA. While there are fewer studies of millions of illegal immigrants in the United States, it may also be true that this large group as a whole also has a lower crime rate than U.S. born citizens.
The VOA story, however, missed a major point as far as crimes committed in the United States are concerned and how American citizens and legal immigrants view such crimes. The illegal immigrant who allegedly raped the girl in a boys bathroom at school should not have been in the United States. Most Americans and legal immigrants do not view illegal alien criminals with any sympathy and do not believe that they should be allowed to remain in the United States for any period of time. It’s a matter of public safety in protecting minors. VOA failed to make that point.
Another important point missed by VOA in its report was that illegal immigrants, or strictly speaking illegal aliens, do not go through the same U.S. government vetting process that legal immigrants must go through to determine that they are not criminals and are not likely to commit crimes while living in the United States. Some of the illegal immigrants turned out to be dangerous criminals and many of those who have committed serious crimes in the U.S., but not all, have been imprisoned. None of these points was made clear in the highly biased VOA report.
What readers of the VOA report who have left comments (only seven so far on the VOA website) seemed to object to most of all, however, was the truly callous, anti-woman, anti-feminist manner in which VOA exploited the tragedy of a young immigrant school girl to score partisan political points while brushing aside any human concerns as if they did not exist, just as some of the conservative media, the focus of the one-sided accusations from VOA, exploited the same story to score opposite political points.
The VOA report was just as biased in the opposite direction if not more so, but it was also far more insensitive and offensive to the female victim of rape, or for that matter to any young woman, in how the brutal rape was completely minimized by the Voice of America in an highly exploitative way to score one-sided political points against opponents of illegal immigration and against the Trump administration.
A comment by “Annonymous” under the VOA report made that point very clear.
March 25, 2017 8:05 AM
“Let’s see. They are criminals to start with just by being here. The 14 year old girls must have been wanting [for] them to rape and sodomize her. I hope you can figure out where I’m going with this. If they were not here then the odds look good that she would not have be[en] raped and sodomized. You figure it out from here.”
Another visitor to the VOA website made a point about the difference between legal and illegal immigrants, which the VOA report failed to make, and about the U.S. government’s vetting process for legal immigrants.
March 25, 2017 8:07 AM
“Immigrants are not dangerous, they are vetted. It[‘]s the illegal aliens who are dangerous.”
VOA did not quote in its report any statements from some of the parents and/or some of the protesters concerned about the safety of students, but VOA did quote Jack Smith, superintendent of the schools system, who defended the open admission process. BBC reported on March 22 that “On Tuesday night, demonstrators outside the school chanted ‘safety not sanctuary’, a reference to sanctuary cities, where local authorities often protect those without legal US residency from deportation.” BBC had its report, Maryland high school rape case sparks immigration row | BBC, two days before VOA posted its own.
One of the comments left under the VOA report pointed out that illegal immigration has become a partisan issue in the United States, as well as a safety of students issue. The VOA report failed to explain the partisan undercurrents of the debate over illegal immigration and made it appear that the Trump administration and the Republicans oppose all immigration and all immigrants, which is simply not true (President Trump’s wife is an immigrant.) VOA also did not address in its report the issue of jobs being taken away from poorer Americans and legal immigrants by those who come to the United States illegally. Jobs and the rule of law were big issues during Trump’s successful election campaign. VOA should not have ignored them. The VOA report made it appear that crime is the only issue connected with illegal immigrants and that it is being unjustly used against them by conservative media when in fact it is only one of many issues and it is not completely irrelevant, as the VOA tried to suggest. Crime is certainly not irrelevant to the young immigrant woman who was raped or to any other victim of crime committed by a person who should not be in the United States in the first place. Legal immigrants are also victims of such crimes as the alleged rape in Maryland demonstrates.
March 25, 2017 5:01 PM
“The democrats are banking on you being gullible…. if just one illegal harms an american in any way they that was one illegal too many. These are preventable crimes as not one of them legally are suppose[d] to be here.Do these people have a crystal ball…can they say with certainty that not one illegal will ever harm an American ( let us put aside for the time being that they are stealing our tax dollars in aid, to get educated and for medical) If none of them are here then we can say with 100% accuracy that not one of them can hurt us!”
Another person commenting on the VOA report noted the callousness of the report’s author and failing to present the victim’s point of view. The person commenting also noted the VOA’s report bias against the Trump administration.
March 25, 2017 7:15 PM
“This news offering pointed more fingers at the Trump administration than it did at the perpetrators. The lead line of the first paragraph put forth the thought that illegal immigrants being a danger was unreasonable. “My God”, don’t they think that the young girl who was bent over a commode while being sodomized probably doesn’t agree. Comments like those from the author of this piece are so out of bounds they’re what gives credence to those who report media bias. It would be informative if the background of the author was made public.”
Another comment recognized that native born Americans and legal immigrants already commit crimes and there is no reason why illegal aliens should be allowed to stay if there is any chance that even a small number of them might also commit crimes.
March 26, 2017 11:56 AM
“What myth. We have enough criminals in this country without having to put up with illegal aliens committing crimes. Send him back to his own country where it is okay to rape and treat women and girls like trash. These kids do not belong in our schools because there parents do not pay taxes. Most of them are working illegally because it is against the law to hire illegals and their bosses pocket whatever taxes they take out of their pay checks.”
One of the disturbing factors about these comments on the Voice of America website is that almost all of them appear to be from Americans living in the United States. This suggests that any biased VOA report, at least in English, (there are many of them and they have increased in numbers since John F. Lansing became CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors in September 2015 and Amanda Bennett became VOA director in the spring of 2016) can have some impact on U.S. public opinion, while U.S. taxpayers and Congress assume that they are funding the organization to reach out with objective presentations of U.S. news and opinions to foreign audiences abroad. VOA’s own statistics show that about 50% of web traffic for VOA English-language content indeed comes from the United States, while VOA’s overall digital reach is being described as “pathetic” compared to commercial U.S. media outlets.
Some of VOA reporters themselves, even those who are critical of President Trump, are appalled how the senior VOA leadership and some VOA managers, editors and other reporters are promoting one-sided, partisan views in VOA output.
One of the VOA reporters who does not want to be identified by name because of the fear of retaliation from the management, sent us this comment:
ANONYMOUS VOA REPORTER: “[Y]our blog carr[ies] pretty big sway around here, so I figured I would bring it to your attention. I would normally never do something like this, but the whole incident has left me boiling mad and disgusted. If you look at any of our immigration stories, you’ll find a plethora of bias. Please don’t tell anyone I contacted you.
We’ve written countless tear-jerkers about illegal immigrants who are scared of being deported. We haven’t written a single story critical of sanctuary cities or illegal immigrant crime. It’s disheartening, to say the least, given our mission statement.
Our ‘immigration team’ … is more interested in telling the world how awful America is and how great illegal immigrants are than they are with telling the truth. I think they are confused about where they work and who pays their salaries.”
The VOA reporter also gave a hint of what it is like working for biased VOA editors. VOA was late in reporting on the story which received wide coverage not only on conservative U.S. media but also on liberal U.S. media in response to reports by FOX News and others, as well as on BBC, Russia’s RT and other international news outlets. All of these news organizations had the rape story two or three days before VOA did and they all reported promptly on the White House press secretary comments about the tragic incident.
At first, the VOA editor tried to downplay the entire incident and not issue a story because the alleged culprit or culprits were illegal, our VOA Newsroom source told us. When it became abundantly obvious that the rape story was being widely reported in the U.S. and abroad, the VOA report was finally written and posted late on March 24, a few days after the White House commented on the story and other news media reported on it.
Russia’s propaganda outlet RT had a factual report on the rape on March 21, Md. high school rape highlights issues of sanctuary cities & illegal immigration ‒ White House | RT, which included a video of White House press secretary Sean Spicer. RT quoted extensively from his remarks and focused on the sanctuary cities issue. The VOA Charter requires the Voice of America to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.” VOA did not. Russia’s RT did. The VOA report only noted that Spicer spoke about it “earlier this week.”
This is what Spicer said, as reported by RT, but not by VOA.
RT: “This is a tragic event, and it’s horrendous and horrible and disgusting what this young woman in Rockville went through. I can’t possibly imagine,” he said. “So, first of all, let’s remember the human side of this, that this is a tragic event that no child, no person, no parent should ever have to deal with.”
Spicer also pointed out that the victim was a legal immigrant.
“To think that this kind of tragedy would occur to someone who’s personally endured that kind of struggle to come to this nation and then face this is reprehensible,” he said. “And it is not who we are as a country. I think it is troubling.”
As of midnight, March 28, the VOA report posted on March 24, showed only seven (7) comments. Russia’s RT report was showing 102 comments.
Reports of extreme bias among some VOA English Newsroom reporters have been many. One of them called Donald Trump an F-word in a Facebook post. Another VOA reporter posted a meme showing Trump as a male sex organ. Another VOA reporter called Trump “a Joke,” while others made fun of his wife and daughter at a VOA Newsroom holiday party. VOA director Amanda Bennett praised a one-sided VOA Spanish Service interview in which an illegal immigrant called Donald Trump a candidate of “hate and prejudice.” The VOA White House reporter wrote that what the information given out by the White House to journalists can be described as “manure.” His report was also praised by Bennett who also praised another report in which a Somali pirate claimed he was not a pirate but a fisherman fighting for economic justice.
The VOA reporter who wants to remain anonymous to avoid reprisals described to us the atmosphere in the VOA Newsroom.
ANONYMOUS VOA REPORTER: “[One of the editors] complains constantly (and loudly) about ‘fat, disgusting Trump supporters’ and how it isn’t important to represent their opinion in stories. She’s one of several editors and reporters who have no problem vocally proclaiming their disdain for [President Trump].”
We have seen a Facebook post by a VOA reporter who ridicules Trump supporters. Trump supporters are among U.S. taxpayers who pay the high federal government salaries of all VOA reporters, managers and senior executives of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the parent federal agency of the Voice of America with its $777 million budget (including VOA). These American citizens deserve the same respect as those who are critics of President Trump and his policies. They views of both sides, plus the views of the administration, must be reported fairly and accurately by VOA. This is not being done under the current VOA and BBG leadership.
The rank-and-file VOA reporter said that there was no discussion in the VOA Newsroom that the rape story was going to be framed “in any way other than ‘Trump is disgusting for trying to use this girl’s rape to push the anti-illegal immigrant narrative’.” The VOA reporter added that the author of the story then proceeded “to use the girl’s rape to push her own narrative.”
Voice of America
March 24, 2017 6:06 PM
WASHINGTON — A criminal incident in a school outside Washington, D.C., has fueled allegations that illegal immigrants are dangerous despite evidence that immigrants — legal and illegal — commit crimes at lower rates than the rest of the population, according to research from several organizations.
Parents, protesters and activists have descended on schools in Montgomery Country, Maryland, where a 14-year-old girl allegedly was raped last week by two classmates, at least one of whom was an undocumented immigrant.
The incident even grabbed the attention of the White House earlier this week. Spokesman Sean Spicer said the rape is exactly why President Donald Trump is pushing for a “crackdown” on illegal immigration.
The narrative from the Trump administration has emphasized the criminal threat posed by illegal immigrants.
Homeland Security report released
Just this week, the Department of Homeland Security released its first weekly report that names cities and other sanctuary jurisdictions that did not cooperate with federal immigration authorities in apprehending illegal immigrants. According to the report, illegal immigrants were either charged or convicted of a total of 206 crimes.
The administration plans to collect data on the perceived threats of foreign nationals in its executive orders on immigration.
But “immigrants — regardless of legal status — do not have higher crime rates than native-born citizens,” writes the Sentencing Project in its report, Immigration and Public Safety, published this month. Increased immigration may, in fact, be responsible for a drop in crime, according to the lobbying group’s report, which states:
“The violent crime rate began to fall in the mid-1990s, and by 2014 it was half of its 1990 level, at 362 offenses per 100,000 residents. By that year, the foreign-born population had more than doubled, reaching 42.2 million people (including 11.1 million undocumented people).”
CATO institute offers study
In addition, a study by the CATO institute released last week found that undocumented immigrants are 44 percent less likely to be incarcerated, and legal immigrants 69 percent less likely to be incarcerated than American natives.
Montgomery County School officials have called on the media to keep the alleged rape case out of the current national debate on immigration.
“We would like to change the conversation,” said Jack Smith, superintendent of the schools system. “Some have tried to make this into a question and issue of immigration … but we serve every student who walks through our doors.”