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The Voice of America defended Friday against Trump’s White House accusations that the press service unreservedly relayed Chinese propaganda about this country’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
“VOA speaks too often for America’s adversaries – not for its citizens,” the White House said in a statement released on Thursday. ” Journalists Must Report the facts, but VOA rather amplified Beijing’s propaganda. “(Boldface reflects the original statement.)
The remark was notable even for an administration which lacks few opportunities to attack the press for reports which do not reflect the president well.
The statement was published under the title, “Voice of America spends your money talking about authoritarian regimes. He attacked VOA for, among other things, a tweet showing a video of a light show against the skyline of Wuhan. The show celebrated the end of isolation in this city, where the coronavirus really took off.
The White House statement also disputed the fact that the news agency called on Chinese efforts in Wuhan to contain the virus as a “model” for other nations. He said VOA relied on unverifiable Chinese government statistics in some reports. These figures have come under severe critical scrutiny from officials in other countries – and the press, including Voice of America journalists.
In a strongly worded response, Voice of America director Amanda Bennett never mentioned the Trump administration. Instead, Bennett – a former editor at the Wall Street newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirerand Bloomberg News, among other reputable media – noted that the freedom of America’s voice to report on all aspects of a problem was enshrined in a 1976 federal law signed by President Gerald R. Ford, which , like Trump, was Republican.
“Unlike China, VOA has stayed true to verifiable facts, including the publication of numerous articles in Mandarin, English and other languages that revealed China’s original secret by keeping information about the initial epidemic of the world, “said Bennett. “VOA has completely debunked much of the information from the Chinese government and government-controlled media. “
She offered a long list of stories that critically examined China’s response to the virus and the statistics it released to the public.
“It is outrageous that the White House attacks Voice of America, which has a tradition of reporting stories that challenge the accounts of authoritarian regimes around the world,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Right now, citizens of some heavily censored countries depend for their health and safety on VOA information on the coronavirus, and President Trump should absolutely not undermine the media’s efforts to do his job. “
Dan Scavino, an adviser to the president who manages his social media strategy, called the Voice of America a “shame“In one of the tweets on the subject.
Ted Lipien, a former acting associate director of VOA, wrote on Facebook that the video in China was the latest in a series of cases where VOA released a raw video of what were, in fact, the events of propaganda without proper balance. He cited videos from Russia, China and Iran.
Bennett wrote, “Our coverage includes checking the facts of the week for the Chinese government’s false chronology of its COVID-19 response, its misleading count which excluded asymptomatic cases, China’s underestimation of the number of deaths at Wuhan and his use of Twitter to promote his international narrative – a platform that the Chinese government has banned nationally. VOA has literally brought hundreds of stories about China’s response and story. ”
And she noted that most VOA journalists, like those of the New York Times and other media, had been “effectively prevented” from reporting on the crisis in China.
The Voice of America is overseen by the CEO of the United States Agency for Global Media. The agency’s board of directors is appointed by the president with the consent of the United States Senate. One seat is permanently reserved for the serving United States Secretary of State. Trump’s greatest diplomat, Secretary Mike Pompeo, has been particularly silent on the controversy.
DISCLOSURE: John Lansing, CEO of NPR, is the former CEO of the United States Agency for the World Media. No NPR executive had ever heard of this story or reviewed it before it was published. It was reported by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, and edited by Emily Kopp, editor of NPR technologies and media.