BBG Watch Commentary
Imagine that a 100% taxpayer-funded radio station charged with representing the United States with U.S. and international news to the world would not regularly update its radio newscasts and its Internet news homepage for many hours while a foreign power is invading a neighboring country with military units and the U.S. President, U.S. Secretary of State, and America’s allies are expressing deep concern.
While most Americans may think that this would never happen, an investigation by BBG Watch discovered this is indeed the case.
U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) was not regularly updating its online English-language radio newscasts over the weekend for many hours. VOA missed or was late on significant news stories involving the White House, the State Department and the U.S. Congress. VOA also has not been updating its main news website, often for many hours.
The latest examples of failures by Voice of America executives, who are U.S. government officials, emerged Sunday night when BBG Watch listened to online VOA radio newscasts at 9:00 PM and 10:00PM EST.
The newscasts were essentially the same and included information about Ukraine that was more than 12 hours old while not mentioning at all the latest news developments.
Not mentioned in these online VOA English radio newscasts were Secretary Kerry’s plans to visit Kyiv on Tuesday in a show of support for Ukraine. Also not mentioned was the G-7 Leaders’ Statement issued by the White House “condemning the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Both of these two significant news items have been known for many hours and reported on by international media.
9PM EST VOA English Online Radio Newscast
No information about Secretary Kerry’s planned trip to Ukraine and G-7 Leaders’ Statement.
10PM EST VOA English Online Radio Newscast
Again, no information about Secretary Kerry’s planned trip to Ukraine and G-7 Leaders’ Statement.
VOA executives made no arrangements for a VOA correspondent to be present and report from the White House when President Obama spoke about Ukraine on Friday.
BBG Watch investigation has also shown that the main VOA English news homepage was not being updated for many hours on Sunday. The same was true on Friday and Saturday. VOA White House correspondent departed the organization on Friday after apparently being threatened by a senior VOA executive for complaining about mismanagement of news reporting.
VOA was late and superficial in reporting on President Obama’s Friday statement on Ukraine and his Saturday telephone call with President Putin. VOA did not report on Secretary Kerry’s Saturday statement on Ukraine until Sunday morning, while Voice of Russia reported on it almost immediately.
At 10:30PM EST on Sunday there is still no indication on the VOA homepage that G-7 leaders have issued a declaration on Ukraine even though the White House issued its statement at about 7:30PM EST. The information about the G-7 statement was inserted into another news report and did not appear on the homepage.
BBG Watch has learned that in response to inquires from angry and frustrated members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), VOA executives interrupted their weekend and beefed up the staff.
Some significant U.S. news items that were simply ignored on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning began to show up on the VOA English website Sunday afternoon. But VOA executives took the path of least resistance. Instead of arranging for Washington correspondents to file full reports, they were satisfied with inserting information about new news developments, such as the G-7 leaders’ statement, into old news reports.
While Al Jazeera, BBC, RT and Voice of Russia were posting separate reports on significant news developments of the day, not to mention RT’s and Voice of Russia’s anti-U.S. commentaries, the best VOA executives could do was to add new information here and there, and not always very promptly. While search engines would pull up these reports from VOA’s competitors, especially RT and Voice of Russia, VOA had very few new reports on Ukraine.
In most cases, visitors to the VOA English news homepage would not be able to tell if any new information was posted.
Ironically, while there is still no separate news report on the G-7 on the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America website as of 10:30 PM EST Sunday (only a brief reference to it in an old report), the Kremlin’s Voice of Russia produced a separate report more than two hours ago, which said that “the Group of Seven major industrialized nations on Sunday condemned Russia’s intrusion into Ukraine and canceled for now preparations for the G8 summit that includes Russia and had been scheduled to take place in Sochi in June, the White House said.”
G7 condemns Russia’s intrusion into Ukraine, halts G8 preparations – White House
Mon, Mar 03, 2014
Source: Voice of Russia (Russia)
China’s CCTV, Germany Deutsche Welle (DW, and Iran’s Press TV also posted separate news reports in English on the G-7 Leaders’ Statement published by the White House. Voice of America did not.
As can be seen from the VOA English homepage screenshot taken at 10:44PM EST, there is no reference or link to any report on the G-7 Leaders’ declaration on Ukraine. They only way site visitors would find out about it would be by opening a report into which brief information on the statement was inserted. Initially, even Secretary Kerry’s announced trip to Ukraine did not get a separate headline on the VOA homepage. A headline about President Obama’s phone call with President Putin never made onto the VOA English news homepage.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 02, 2014
G-7 Leaders Statement
We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine. We call on Russia to address any ongoing security or human rights concerns that it has with Ukraine through direct negotiations, and/or via international observation or mediation under the auspices of the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We stand ready to assist with these efforts.
We also call on all parties concerned to behave with the greatest extent of self-restraint and responsibility, and to decrease the tensions.
We note that Russia’s actions in Ukraine also contravene the principles and values on which the G-7 and the G-8 operate. As such, we have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June, until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have meaningful discussion.
We are united in supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its right to choose its own future. We commit ourselves to support Ukraine in its efforts to restore unity, stability, and political and economic health to the country.
To that end, we will support Ukraine’s work with the International Monetary Fund to negotiate a new program and to implement needed reforms. IMF support will be critical in unlocking additional assistance from the World Bank, other international financial institutions, the EU, and bilateral sources.