USAGM Watch Commentary

On January 31, 2019, the lead paragraph in a news report issued to the whole world by the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) shouted: “A suspected hate-fueled assault on Jussie Smollett, a black, gay and Jewish actor and singer in Chicago, has drawn national headlines and cast a spotlight on rising hate crimes in the United States,” emphasis added by BBG – USAGM Watch.

After a few earlier similar VOA News website reports on the alleged racist and hate attack, there has been a total silence from VOA on what happened next. As of February 20, 2019, 6:00 PM ET, the VOA report “Hate Crimes in Major US Cities Rise for Fifth Year in a Row, Data Show” is showing that it was last updated on February 01, 2019. U.S. media has been reporting for many days that Jussie Smollett was being investigated as a suspect for his report of hate-crime attack, but VOA failed to report this. Today, BBC and other media reported that Chicago Police announced that Smollett is suspected of filing a false police report. BBC had several earlier reports on the controversy. All major U.S. media outlets had many reports on the incident after doubts about the actor’s statements have emerged. The Voice of America had nothing.


VOA News Website Search Results, February 20, 2019, 6:00PM ET



According to inside sources, VOA Newsroom reporters, even those who would like to issue a correction, are afraid to update and correct VOA’s initial false reporting because no one wants to be identified, rightly or falsely, as a Trump supporter or a critic of media. They seem afraid that it could damage their chances of promotion and better assignments under the current U.S. Agency for Global Media management team led by USAGM CEO John F. Lansing, VOA Director Amanda Bennett and VOA Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara—all appointed during the Obama administration.

There are still some reporters in the VOA Newsroom who would like to follow the VOA Charter, but apparently they don’t want to risk being ostracized by some of their colleagues and apparently fear subtle retaliation from their managers.

One senior VOA Newsroom reporter tweeted about another news story, which also turned out to be falsely reported by VOA: “Every one of them [Covington High School Students] should be outed on social media and face stern discipline by the school and Diocese. #NativeAmericans #IPM2019.”

SEE: Did Voice of America federal reporter threaten Americans to silence pro-Trump free speech?, BBG Watch – USAGM Watch, February 20, 2019.

Such veiled threats apparently are taken seriously by VOA reporters who are afraid to speak out against multiple violations of the VOA Charter and fail to issue corrections and updates on the false news they reported earlier.

We have received the following comment from an unnamed source:


“VOA covered the Jussie Smollett story quite heavily right when it broke.
There have been no updates since. The story is one of the biggest in the US right now.
Shouldn’t VOA be updating this?


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