At Voice of America, history repeats itself because of poor USAGM leadership, partisan bias and violations of VOA Charter.
USAGM Watch Media Commentary
According to the former Voice of America journalist and manager who led the VOA Polish Service during the peaceful Solidarity revolution against communism and Soviet Russia’s control of Poland, “The taxpayer-funded Voice of America is increasingly being fooled into advancing hostile foreign propaganda and being used by agency officials and some partisan editors to propagandize to Americans.”
Ted Lipien, who was also a co-founder of BBG Watch, now USAGM Watch, a government watchdog website, which is run by volunteer citizen journalists, many of them former VOA broadcasters, noted in his Washington Examiner op-ed, “At Voice of America, history repeats itself,” multiple management and programming problems under both current and recent VOA and USAGM executives:
Independent Russian journalists accuse the VOA of spreading President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda. In an interview with Forbes Russia, independent Russian journalist Galina Timchenko said that the Voice of America “listens to bulls***.” One of her colleagues tweeted that a recent VOA news report was “irresponsible and amazingly stupid” and that whoever approved it should be fired. In Africa and in the United States, the Tigrayans accuse VOA of ignoring the genocide in Ethiopia.
Recent VOA broadcasts glorified such communists as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro without mentioning their countless victims. Early VOA broadcasters glorified Joseph Stalin, who during World War II was in control of America’s most important military ally against Nazi Germany, but was also a mass murderer like Adolf Hitler.
Recent scandals at USAGM included having leaders with corporate or family business interests in China and Russia, visits and calls to the Chinese Embassy, taking bribes from foreign officials, hiring journalists who previously produced anti-Western propaganda for Russian state media, plagiarism , and repeating Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Ethiopian and Chinese propaganda in Voice of America broadcasts.
Lipien was also VOA’s acting associate director and served briefly in 2020-2021 as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s president. He offers several solutions:
There are already thousands of posts on social media from Chinese Americans, Iranian Americans, and Tigrayan Americans highly critical of the current and recent agency leaders and managers. Mismanagement at USAGM is a bipartisan issue that needs a bipartisan solution based on the VOA Charter, which is U.S. law. The charter requires the Voice of America broadcasts to be completely free from partisan bias and free from foreign and domestic propaganda of any kind.
The U.S. Agency for Global Media and the Voice of America’s management need to set an example for honesty in America if they want to become credible and relevant abroad. U.S. international broadcasters must have competent leaders who are honest about history, enjoy bipartisan support, don’t have business interests in China or Russia, and are untainted by scandals.