USAGM Watch Commentary

The day before U.S. Election Day this year, the heads of the tax-funded Voice of America (VOA) central English newsroom sent out an e-mail stating that VOA newsroom managers, editors and reporters, who are U.S. federal government employees and in some cases government contractors “have worked very hard, planning, coordinating, assigning and reporting for many months now.” Key VOA newsroom managers assured VOA employees that “We have put together an incredible body of work.”

Four years ago, however, the same VOA central English newsroom assumed that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate in 2016 for U.S. presidency, would certainly win. As reported then by BBG Watch, the VOA newsroom did not prepare any profiles of the winning Republican Party candidate Donald Trump, but had two pre-written profiles of Hillary Clinton.

This is how BBG Watch and a few Voice of America journalists commented on VOA newsroom’s pre-election bias and lack of preparation in November 2016.

This year, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which is the new name for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), has a Trump-nominated and Senate confirmed CEO Michael Pack who has been in charge since June 2020 and has a three-year term. Key Obama administration era executives who were in charge in 2016, including then VOA director Amanda Bennett and then VOA deputy director Sandy Sugawara had resigned shortly before Michael Pack took over. His predecessor as CEO of the agency, John F. Lansing, resigned in September 2019 amid management and programming scandals.

BBG Watch Commentary, November 9, 2016

Some U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) journalists working tonight are upset that their management, which is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), has arranged for a couple “Clinton will win” programs to be pre-written and made available for translation, but apparently failed to arrange for similar “Trump will win” programs to be pre-written so that VOA broadcasters could use them if Trump is the winner.

VOA journalists have shared with us the text of the Voice of America “Clinton will win” program and complained that they have nothing similar on Donald Trump.

“I am here at 1 AM Wednesday; we still have no pre-written ‘Trump wins piece’,” a Voice of America reporter emailed BBG Watch.

Voice of America journalists have asked us to post the script, even though neither Clinton nor Trump is a declared winner at this time (November 9, 1:15 AM), as an example of what they say is a partisan bias among some VOA and BBG managers whom they accuse of disregarding the VOA Charter.

Voice of America’s director is Amanda Bennett. John F. Lansing is BBG CEO and Director. Jeff Shell is the outgoing BBG Chairman.

BBG Watch, “Voice of America had two pre-written ‘Clinton will win programs’; none for Trump, VOA staffers say,” November 9, 2019.

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