BBG Watch Commentary
Voice of America (VOA) Mandarin Service journalist, senior editor Huchen Zhang, spoke today at the open board meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). He is one of the “VOA Mandarin Five” journalists placed on administrative leave by VOA director Amanda Bennett. Ms. Bennett had made the decision to shorten the live VOA Mandarin Service interview with Chinese whistleblower Guo Wengui broadcast by VOA on April 19 and was sitting next to Huchen Zhang (Photo) as he spoke to the BBG Board on June 14, 2017. Also speaking today to the BBG Board was suspended VOA Mandarin Service chief Dr. Sasha Gong.
“The Chinese are fighters,” one of many former VOA journalists who support and defend “VOA Mandarin Five” told BBG Watch “We have great admiration for them,” the journalist wrote.
Many current and former Voice of America employees, including former VOA director Robert R. Reilly who wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, are concerned how VOA journalists are treated by the BBG bureaucracy headed by BBG CEO John F. Lansing. Mr. Lansing has been strongly supportive of Amanda Bennett and her decisions in the Guo Wengui interview controversy.
STATEMENT BY VOA MANDARIN JOURNALIST HUCHEN ZHANG TO BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS ON GUO WENGUI INTERVIEW
JUNE 14, 2017
My name is Huchen Zhang, and I am a senior editor at VOA Mandarin Service. I have worked for VOA for 26 years and I believe I have served VOA honorably. Unfortunately, I am one of the five journalists who have been placed on administrative leave because of the Guo Wengui interview.
I would like to thank the Board for allowing us to attend this meeting and speak.
My heart is heavy that the whole thing has come to this stage. I am particularly sad about the damage that has occurred to the credibility and reputation of VOA, especially VOA Mandarin broadcasting. I believe the interview itself and the investigations afterwards could have been handled much differently.
I am encouraged by the exchange between Senator Rubio and Secretary Tillerson yesterday. I hope the OIG investigation will proceed soon so that we can get to the bottom of things and the incident will be resolved in a timely and satisfactory manner.
Where is the truth? What really happened in decision making and during the airing and live stream should be the key,
This is a great opportunity for readers and audiences to view the progress of this historical incident of VOA including the sudden cutoff of broadcasting and forceful suspension of experienced staff.
No matter what will be happening in Mr. Guo Wengui’s allegation about the top officials and legal systems in China in the future, news about Mr. Guo’s case has already set a mile stone in the history of communist party of China. VOA sensed the importance of the case, but lost the battle of journalism by the outside and inside pressure.
The outside pressure is an extension of inside control under communist party of China （VOA has been blocked within China for many many years while US does not block any Chinese news and propaganda）. The inside pressure is from misjudgment and furious leadership (the worst of all is cover-up). Both outside and inside influences need to be investigated, and made public. All mistakes need to be corrected to re-establish the reputation of VOA.
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