FreeMediaOnline.org San Francisco, CA, USA, July 24, 2011 — Leaders of the Ethiopian American community joined by free media advocates are planning a protest rally on Monday, July 25, in front of the Voice of America (VOA) building in Washington, DC amid charges of censorship of VOA news programs to Ethiopia by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). According to Voice of America broadcasters who spoke on the condition that their names not be revealed because they fear reprisals, the BBG has tried to silence VOA journalist David Arnold who encouraged reporting that upset BBG members as well as officials of the Ethiopian regime. VOA journalists have complained of their reports being removed by the management from VOA websites and of being prevented from covering important political events. In a situation reminiscent of Soviet and East European communist media controls, a high-level manager reportedly forbade VOA Africa Division journalists to take written notes during a staff meeting in which complaints about censorship were raised. The BBG is a presidentially-appointed bipartisan group which runs VOA and other government-funded U.S. international broadcasters and is supposed to promote freedom of expression and anti-censorship efforts around the world, but has been accused of negotiating with repressive regimes, terminating VOA radio and TV programs to countries that restrict media freedom, including Russia and China, and firing VOA journalists who specialize in human rights reporting. BBG and VOA managers have been putting pressure on broadcasters to limit political reporting in favor of human-interest stories as a way of persuading various regimes to allow placement of such reports on local stations and websites. Numerous government surveys have rated the BBG as one of the worst-managed federal agencies. Independent journalists fighting censorship abroad have accused the BBG of being confused about its mission.
BBG wants to end VOA Chinese broadcasts on the anniversary of the establishment of communist China. “On Valentine’s Day, the BBG announced to all the employees of the VOA’s China branch its proposal to eliminate VOA shortwave radio and TV broadcasts to China on October 1. By switching to Web-only operations, the BBG told us, $8 million would be saved.…
TedLipien.com, Truckee, California, USA, May 01, 2011 — In a public diplomacy blunder likely to offend American Catholics, Polish-American voters and people in Poland, the Obama Administration failed to send a high-ranking American official to the beatification ceremonies for Pope John Paul II, which were held today at the Vatican. Many other religious and ethnic groups in America are also likely to be disturbed by the failure of President Obama to attend the ceremony himself or to send a special delegation headed by Vice President Biden. The White House could have also dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or prominent members of the U.S. Congress from both political parties. The United States was represented at the ceremony only by Miguel Diaz, the ambassador to the Vatican. This is considered the lowest level of representation at an important event of this kind. King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium led the list of royalty present and 16 heads of state and several prime ministers attended, including Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.
FreeMediaOnline.org Truckee, CA, USA, April 1, 2011– The Washington Times has published an op-ed by Free Media Online president Ted Lipien urging Congress to stop the Broadcasting Board of Governors from silencing the Voice of America radio to China. A Chinese free labor union leader like Poland’s Lech Walesa could be declared expendable by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which…
TedLipien.com, Truckee, CA, February 08, 2011 — One would think that the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birthday could be a perfect public diplomacy theme for all U.S. embassies in Central and Eastern Europe — a great opportunity for embassy-sponsored events to strengthen ties with America among diverse nations that owe their current independence and freedom in large part to President Reagan’s vision combined with his steadfastness in standing up to the “Evil Empire.” And yet, both highly-trained and highly-paid U.S. diplomats working in the countries of the former Soviet Block by and large completely ignored the anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birthday. Only two diplomatic post out of more than a dozen in the region sponsored a public event designed to remind older and younger generations of East Europeans of Ronald Reagan’s contribution to freeing them from Soviet domination.
TedLipien.com, Truckee, CA, January 06, 2011 The following is not a State Department cable. It was not written by The Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale and was not leaked by Wiki Leaks: SECRET 1. I know I could not get President Obama to go on TV to say something about Belarus. You may try to…
TedLipien.com, Truckee, CA, January 03, 2011 — The following is not a State Department cable. It was not written by The Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale and not leaked by Wiki Leaks:
TOTALLY TOP SECRET
PARA 5 & 6 ATT. U.S. EMBASSY WARSAW
SUBJECT: Ronald Reagan As A Subversive Model for U.S. Public Diplomacy in Former Soviet Block Countries
En ce moment, il n’y a plus de pilote dans l’avion. [At the moment, there is no longer a pilot on the plane.] — A European comment on President Obama as a leader of the Free World.
TedLipien.com, Truckee, California, USA, January 03, 2011 — Who is the leader of the Free World when democracy is under threat?
En ce moment, il n’y a plus de pilote dans l’avion. [At the moment, there is no longer a pilot on the plane.] — A European comment on President Obama as a leader of the Free World. TedLipien.com, Truckee, California, USA, January 03, 2011 — Who is the leader of the Free World when democracy is under threat? For a…
TedLipien.com, Truckee, California, December 28, 2010 — I wrote earlier about unbalanced coverage by the Voice of America English Service of the START treaty debate in the U.S. Senate.
Here is another stunning example of a completely one-sided report by VOA on U.S.-Russian relations. There is not a single sentence in this report about Congressional or any other U.S. domestic or international criticism of President Obama’s approach to managing relations with the Kremlin.
In my entire career with VOA spanning more than two decades, I’ve never seen such government PR being presented as thought-provoking, objective and balanced news and information. Not a word about critical comments by Senator John McCain, Senator George Voinovich, Senator Jim DeMint, or Senator Mitch McConnell.
Update: America.gov restored my comment.
TedLipien.com, Truckee, California, December 27, 2010 — On the day the U.S. Senate voted to approve the new arms reduction treaty with Russia, I found an article on the State Depatment’s website, America.gov, which gave a long list of the START treaty’s benefits lauded by the Obama administration but failed to note any of the objections from some key Republican lawmakers and other critics. I posted a short comment that a website devoted to public diplomacy, with a name that implies that it represents the views of the entire American government and the American public, should try to present a more balanced perspective and mention some of the difficulties in getting the U.S.-Russian agreement approved by the Senate.
Update: America.gov restored my comment.
TedLipien.com, Truckee, California, December 22, 2010 — I found a factually correct but at the same time completely one-sided report for foreign audiences on America.gov – a State Department website – which claims to have some journalistic objectivity. I posted my comment to the story, which was promptly removed. I recreate it here from memory:
FreeMediaOnline.org Truckee, CA, USA, December 19, 2010 — In their eagerness to promote the Obama Administration policies to overseas audiences, the Voice of America (VOA) English Service reporters and editors have been toeing the White House line on the proposed START arms reductions treaty with Russia and failing to report in a balanced way on the substantial Republican opposition to the treaty, as they are required to do by U.S. law which governs their journalistic work.
TedLipien.com, Truckee, CA, December 17, 2010 — The START treaty must be very good for Russia if Prime Minister Putin felt it necessary to disavow a reported statement given earlier to the media by an unitentified Kremlin official who suggested that an assassin or assassins may have been dispatched to the U.S. to kill a former Russian spy suspected of betraying a group of sleeper Russian agents. The earlier story, although not reported widely by mainstream U.S.media, was not good public relations and public diplomacy since it implied the Kremlin’s intention to violate U.S. laws on American soil. He may have been advised to issue a denial to help win the approval for the START treaty in the U.S. Senate.
Obama to the Poles: Have some Patriot missiles that don’t work to protect you from Russia
Opinia.US Truckee, CA, December 6, 2010 — The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. has released and commented on a number of leaked U.S. cables dealing with Poland. There needs to be a much greater scrutiny of these cables by mainstream U.S. media and political pressure from Polonia voters to force President Obama to change his course on Poland.