BBG Watch Commentary

President Barack ObamaA BBG Watch source in Asia told us that U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) international radio did not carry live President Obama’s major foreign policy address in its English program. BBC World Service not only carried the speech live, but also provided commentaries after the speech.

Unlike during some of the past major presidential speeches, VOA English website reportedly did have a live video of President Obama speaking at West Point, but VOA worldwide English radio program apparently did not bother to provide live audio.

According to sources, at 1500 UTC, while President Obama was already finishing his long speech on foreign policy, VOA worldwide English radio had only a 30 second news item on it in its regular hourly newscast without much substance, and no analysis. BBC World Service radio carried President Obama’s speech live and had commentaries immediately after he finished speaking.

According to sources, VOA management did not assign enough staffers to provide live or delayed news updates on President Obama’s speech while he was still speaking.

Sources told BBG Watch that VOA director, David Ensor, may be having an all hands staff meeting Thursday. Perhaps someone can ask him why VOA worldwide English radio could not carry President Obama’s major foreign policy address live? Someone should also ask him why VOA executives failed to assign enough staff to provide live news updates on the address while the president was still speaking and did not arrange for live commentaries immediately after the speech?

As of 1:15 AM EDT Thursday (the next day), VOA English News main online report on President Obama’s major foreign policy address, “Obama: US Isolationism Not an Option,” had only 3 (three) Facebook “Shares.”

In his major foreign policy speech at West Point, President Obama failed to mention that the Voice of America, or for that matter Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, played a major role with their news broadcasts and commentaries during the Cold War in expanding the number of democracies in the world.

Obama listed U.S. diplomacy, foreign assistance, U.S. military and even technological breakthroughs as major factors that have allowed more people to live under elected governments, but perhaps because of mismanagement at the Voice of America and the federal bureaucracy of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), he did not mention U.S. international broadcasting which historically had played a major role in helping to bring democracy to Central and Eastern Europe and to some other parts of the former Soviet empire.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “But remember that because of America’s efforts, because of American diplomacy and foreign assistance as well as the sacrifices of our military, more people live under elected governments today than at any time in human history.  Technology is empowering civil society in ways that no iron fist can control.  New breakthroughs are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.  And even the upheaval of the Arab World reflects the rejection of an authoritarian order that was anything but stable, and now offers the long-term prospect of more responsive and effective governance.”