BBG Watch Commentary

U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) overseen and managed by the ailing Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) federal agency has failed to report on the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ July 2 press briefing remarks that the United States does not recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea and that U.S. Crimea sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine.

Understandably, Sarah Sanders’ response to a reporter’s question (see on C-SPAN) in which she restated the unchanged U.S. policy on Crimea have been reported widely by U.S. and international media.

Prompt reporting on these remarks from the White House was especially needed in light of earlier confusion over what President Trump might tell President Putin about Crimea during their upcoming summit meeting in Helsinki. Reports on the White House press secretary’s remarks about the U.S. policy toward Russia with regard to Crimea, Ukraine and U.S. sanctions against Russia were carried among others by AP, Reuters, Politico, The Hill, Bloomberg, Haaretz, Deutsche Welle (DW) in Spanish.

Even Russia’s Sputnik International and Iran’s Press TV reported in English on the White House U.S. Crimea policy clarification, but a search of the Voice of America English news site has shown no indication of any online reporting on Sarah Sanders’ Crimea remarks.

The New York Times and many other news outlets in the United States and abroad reported on the Crimea remarks by Sarah Sanders using AP and Reuters, but the Voice of America English News did not despite the VOA Charter’s mandate that “VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies. (Public Law 94-350).”

A VOA English news report “US Lawmakers in Moscow Set Stage for Trump-Putin Summit,” which on July 4 at 7:40 PM EDT showed that it was last updated July 03, 2018 1:48 PM had nothing on Sarah Sanders’ July 2 Crimea remarks but included information suggesting the U.S. might recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Sanders’ earlier comments contradicted such reports, but VOA did not bother to include them.


VOA Report Last Updated: July 03, 2018 1:48 PM as Seen July 04, 2018 7:40 PM

Yet Trump’s push for a quick summit with Putin has equally alarmed traditional U.S. allies, with whom Trump has clashed over issues such as funding for NATO, and the Iran nuclear deal, among other issues. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal earlier this year.
Most recently, the U.S. leader angered European leaders when he reportedly suggested last month that he may be willing to reverse U.S. policy and recognize Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from neighboring Ukraine.
When asked about the Crimea issue, Senator Shelby demurred. “We discussed all the issues including that one, but the resolution is not on our level.”


Both VOA and the Broadcasting Board of Governors agency continues to be as the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described it in 2013 “practically defunct.” Both are still run by Obama administration era holdover appointees: VOA Director Amanda Bennett, her deputy Sandy Sugawara, and BBG CEO John F. Lansing.


Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Issued on: July 2, 2018 4:11 PM EDT

Q Thanks, Sarah. The National Security Advisor, John Bolton, appeared to leave the door open to the U.S. recognizing the Russian annexation of Crimea in his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin. Will you rule out the U.S. acknowledging that annexation? Or is that on the table?
SANDERS: We do not recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea. We agree to disagree with Russia on that front. And our Crimea sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to the Ukraine.
Q Would recognizing Crimea be a possibility in the future if Russia —
SANDERS: I’m sorry?
Q I said, would recognizing the annexation be on the table if Russia agrees to certain concessions?
SANDERS: I’m not going to get into any negotiations at this point.


A search of the VOA News English website conducted on July 4 has produced no results of any VOA English language reporting on Sarah Sanders’ July 2 remarks on Crimea. VOA Russian and Ukrainian services did report on her remarks in their respective languages. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) posted a short report in English the following day. RFE/RL report, however, still included earlier claims that President Trump might recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

RFE/RL REPORT White House Says U.S. Still Rejects Russia’s Annexation Of Crimea, July 03, 2018 00:19 GMT

On June 29, Trump was asked by reporters whether he planned to drop opposition to the annexation.
“We’re going to have to see,” he said.
News reports have cited European leaders as saying that Trump argued privately at a recent Group of Seven summit that Crimea should be part of Russia because, he said, most of the people there speak Russian as their primary language.

An earlier RFE/RL Facebook post produced a few highly negative comments from what appear to be Americans speaking out against President Trump, at least one of them using obscene language. These RFE/RL English-language news reports about President Trump otherwise get very few comments from anybody else.


While RFE/RL had a Facebook post in English with highly critical comments against Trump on June 30, it did not have a Facebook post on Sarah Sanders’ clarifying comments about Crimea a few days later.

Some of the English-language comments on the RFE/RL site, most likely from American critics of President Trump included:

“$500 says Trump couldn’t find Crimea on a map.”

“Oops. He might hand back the Baltic States too. He’s easily persuaded by Putin.”

“Russian agent.”

“Putin’s Lapdog”


Comment “AS BILL MAHER SAID, TRUMP’S MOUTH IS PUTIN’S COCK SHEATH” was also posted and remained on the RFE/RL Facebook page for several hours before being removed.


Search Results on VOA English News Website



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