Voice of America (VOA) reverses its ban on calling Hamas “terrorists” after U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) CEO Amanda Bennett gets an earful from members of Congress.

USAGM Watch Commentary

After reports in the National Review [HERE] and the Washington Post [HERE], op-eds in The Hill [HERE] and the Washington Times [HERE], a letter from GOP Senators to the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) CEO Amanda Bennett, and intervention by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), managers in USAGM’s largest media entity, the Voice of America (VOA), who previously ordered VOA reporters not to use the term “terrorists” to describe Hamas, have now reversed their ban.

Amanda Bennett, VOA Director 2016-2020, USAGM CEO since 2021.

Appointed during the Obama administration, Amanda Bennett served as Voice of America director from 2016 to 2020. Selected by President Biden, she has been USAGM CEO since 2021. An unprecedented number of programming and management scandals marked her tenure as VOA director. Even Democrats had doubts about her management skills, but the U.S. Senate eventually confirmed her in a divided vote.

Bennett promoted and highly praised many of the VOA managers, editors, and reporters who insisted that Hamas members, who murdered defenseless Jewish women, children, and men and took others as hostages, should not be called terrorists.

On November 22, 2023, Bennett told USAGM staff in an e-mail leaked by VOA whistleblowers to “abide” by the principles of the agency’s “Best Practices Guides,” which banned using the word “terrorists.” As reported by Jimmy Quinn in National Review in an exclusive story, on December 5, 2023, the Voice of America’s management reversed its previous policy.

For two months, Voice of America and the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) — the federal body that oversees it — vigorously defended the policy, with editors in at least one case changing an Israeli journalist’s report on the terrorist attacks to remove the word “terrorists” when referring to Hamas.

VOA’s leadership now admits that this was a mistake, with its acting director John Lippman explaining the change in a memo to staff this morning.

“Correcting guidance that was issued October 10, 2023, and reissued on October 20, 2023, there is NO prohibition in our Best Practices Guide against our labeling the people and organizations that commit acts of terror as ‘terrorists’ or against using the word ‘terrorism’ in our stories without attribution,” he wrote.

Jimmy Quinn, Exclusive: Voice of America Reverses Policy against Calling Hamas ‘Terrorists’