BBG Watch Commentary

Members of the Trump administration, speaking for themselves and not wanting their names to be used because the White House has not yet made final decisions regarding the future status of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) or its future CEO, said that recent Voice of America (VOA) reports which many other critics charge violate the VOA Charter because of bias, one-sidedness and strident partisanship, are both “shameful” and “embarrassing,” one of our contributors who spoke with them told BBG Watch.

One Trump administration member said specifically that “it is embarrassing” when even some foreign media sources quote official U.S. government statements at greater length than the Voice of America, which under the VOA Charter is required by U.S. law to present U.S. policies clearly and effectively.

These Trump administration members are believed to have read some of the recent VOA English News reports, most likely including some of these: “Convicted Murderer’s Grave in Pakistan Becomes Shrine for Some;” “School Rape Case Fuels Myth that Immigrants are Dangerous;” “Seized Oil Tanker with 8 Crew Anchored Off Somalia Coast” (also headlined in a VOA e-mail “Desperate fishermen?” and promoted by VOA director Amanda Bennett with a Facebook post: “One of the men who seized off the Somali coast this week tells VOA he’s not a pirate“); “White House Reporters Prefer Sunlight to Spotlight” (comparing White House statements to the press to “manure” and also highlighted by VOA director with a Facebook comment: “Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a White House reporter? Here’s the scoop from VOA’s own WH reporter, Steve Herman.”); “Trump’s Attack on Media as ‘Enemy of the People’ Has Historic Echoes” (comparing Trump remark on the “fake media” to statements by Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.); “Descent Into Jihad” (a VOA special report which even some VOA newsroom reporters said that it romanticized a terrorist, but it received praise in a tweet from VOA director.)

BBG Watch was not told which of these VOA reports were reviewed by Trump administration members and which of these they specifically described as “shameful” and “embarrassing.”

There is still no word from the White House whether, when or whom President Trump might nominate to replace the current BBG CEO John Lansing, an Obama administration holdover who has not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and what the administration’s plans may be for the agency, its future or its budget. It is obvious, however, that mismanagement and extreme partisanship at VOA have been noticed by at least some members of the Trump administration.

Photo: The White House is lit in blue in honor of World Autism Awareness Day in Washington D.C., Sunday, April 2, 2017 (Official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen).