BBG Watch Commentary

Josh Earnest Assistant to the President, Press Secretary

U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America’s VOA Central English Newsroom failed to report on its main English news website January 28, 2016, or today until 11:00 AM EST, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s response at press briefing yesterday that the U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Adam Szubin’s assessment in an interview with BBC that “Putin is corrupt” is the one that best reflects the administration view.

VOA Central English Newsroom also failed to report that the Kremlin slammed the White House over Putin corruption claim. SEE: Kremlin Demands Explanation for ‘Outrageous’ U.S. Remarks About Putin, By NEIL MacFARQUHAR, New York Times, January 29, 2016 [3 hours ado as of 1:30 PM. EST, Friday]; White House accusations aimed at Putin are insults – Kremlin spokesman | RT, January 29, 2016

ALSO SEE: BBC investigates corruption by Putin, where were Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America?, BBG Watch, January 27, 2016

VOA English Website Search Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 11.06 AM EST
While VOA Newsroom has nothing online on the White House-Putin Corruption-Kremlin Response story, U.S. and international media is full of reports.

In the news

… that Russian President Vladimir Putin is corrupt “best reflects the administration’s view,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily briefing on Thursday.

White House backs US Treasury’s views on Putin as ‘corrupt’

Jerusalem Post Israel News – 21 hours ago

More news for earnest, putin, corrupt

Kremlin slams White House over Putin corruption claim – ABC…putincorruption

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

6 hours ago – Kremlin slams White House over Vladimir Putin corruption claim … White House spokesman Josh Earnest backed up that line, saying that the …

White House backs US Treasury’s views on Putin as ‘corrupt ……/White-House-backs-US-Treasurys-…

The Jerusalem Post

21 hours ago – White House backs US Treasury’s views on Putin as ‘corrupt’ … the administration’s view,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters …



It is astounding that VOA Central English Newsroom would not report on such a statement from the White House. This kind of omission would have been unthinkable during the Cold War, as well as before the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) was created in 1999 as the oversight agency for VOA. The VOA Charter says: “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) The Voice of America has been mismanaged and lacking a central news strategy for well over a decade.

Voice of America Russian Service, however, posted its own short, four-paragraph report on the White House spokesman’s comment yesterday on Putin. The VOA Russian report was posted at 8:15 PM EST Thursday: Белый дом: президент России Владимир Путин коррумпирован | VOA Russian. The White House spokesman spoke about President Putin at yesterday’s press briefing between approximately 1:00 and 2:00 PM EST.

Voice of America Ukrainian Service also posted a short news item online on the White Press Secretary’s comments about President Putin.

But since VOA Central English Newsroom failed to report online on While House Press Secretary’s remark about accusations of corruption against President Putin, it is more than likely that very few of VOA’s dozens of other foreign language services carried this news. Some VOA’s language services to Eurasia and other regions had nothing on the White House Putin corruption story when we checked.

There is little doubt that the Voice of America in its present condition under the Broadcasting Board of Governors is incapable of responding to Putin propaganda or even of covering basic news.

U.S. Treasury Adam Szubin in BBC Panorama

BBC Panorama interviewing Adam Szubin, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.”‘Putin is corrupt’ says US Treasury” | BBC News

While BBC was airing Monday its 30 min. documentary on corruption charges against President Putin, the Voice of America posted a report about zebras. The zebra camouflage report was VOA’s most popular English news story on Monday. The vast majority of its views came from the United States and Canada. The U.S. is excluded from VOA’s news mission.

Another BBG U.S. taxpayer-funded media entity, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty still bans a former reporter who wanted to get the Putin corruption story out. Anastasia Kirilenko was fired by RFE/RL in a dispute over her investigative reporting. She later worked on research for the BBC documentary.

While VOA was posting stories about zebras, RFE/RL’s English language website was running a video of a football-playing goat form Kazakhstan (see the video on their webpage).

How could they find time for mere trifles such as Putin’s embezzlement, when they have to deal with sporty goats?,” someone said in a comment for BBG Watch.

Unlike VOA, RFE/RL’s English language news website did have a short news item on White House Press Secretary’s comment about President Putin: White House Agrees That Putin Is ‘Picture Of Corruption’ | RFE/RL It says at the bottom of the five-paragraph RFE/RL report that it is “Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, TASS, and Interfax.”

Time to wake up BBG, VOA, and RFE/RL and do some real reporting, and in the case of RFE/RL, some real investigative reporting on President Putin.

Josh Earnest

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 1/28/2016

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

12:51 P.M. EST

Q Speaking of Russia, this week we heard the Treasury Under Secretary tell the BBC that Putin is corrupt. Does the administration share that view?
MR. EARNEST: Well, the assessment of the Treasury Department I think is the one that is the one that best reflects the administration view. Obviously, the Treasury Department is responsible for enforcing sanctions, and obviously there are significant sanctions that are in place against Russia because of their destabilizing activities inside of Ukraine.
Q That’s a pretty blunt public statement, though, and that’s why it’s being asked now because it’s something we really haven’t heard in so many words before. So if that is the case, a pretty black-and-white statement, why have we not yet seen sanctions against Putin?
MR. EARNEST: Well, again, I would encourage you to check with the Treasury Department about the sanctions that they have designed. I think there are probably a variety of reasons for that. The first is, we obviously work closely with our European partners to make sure that we’re taking coordinated steps to isolate the Russians and their economy. And so that’s certainly part of the equation here.
But the other thing that we don’t do is we don’t make a habit of announcing sanctions in advance, or spend a whole lot of time discussing in detail what sort of sanctions may or may not be considered by the U.S. government and our partners. To do so would only give those who could potentially be the target of these sanctions the opportunity to take actions to evade those sanctions, and we certainly don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to do that.