USAGM WATCH COMMENTARY
While posting a few short reports in recent days on how the communist China uses propaganda and may not be telling the whole truth on coronavirus, the U.S. taxpayer-funded and U.S. government-managed Voice of America (VOA) has offered otherwise a remarkably rich and steady stream of multiple positive news reports, videos and social media posts, hailing what VOA has been presenting to its international and American audiences as China’s progress on beating the pandemic. Most of these VOA news reports do not question official Chinese statistic and claims. Some instead specifically rely on what are likely false official Chinese statistics to make the point that the coronavirus pandemic is now worse in some of the EU countries and in the United States than it was or may still be in China. The government in Beijing has every reason to send a thank-you note to VOA and to VOA Director Amanda Bennett.
The Voice of America has been giving also considerable attention to Chinese, Russian and Cuban aid to various countries fighting the coronavirus while almost completely ignoring U.S. and EU foreign anti-coronavirus assistance. We found plenty of VOA videos and social media posts touting Chinese, Cuban and Russian aid, but we could not find any VOA videos showing U.S. coronavirus fighting assistance being delivered to any foreign country, even though the U.S. State Department announced that such aid was being provided.
Voice of America’s positive reporting on China, with none or very little questioning of official Chinese statistics and motives stands in contrast with a steady steam of criticism and questioning by VOA of U.S. and EU responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
In most of its reporting in English, the Voice of America is accepting at face value China’s official coronavirus data. Official Chinese statistics have been questioned by some experts and some journalists, including Radio Free Asia (RFA) reporters. RFA like VOA is part of the federal U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), but RFA’s programming and style of reporting on China is quite different. RFA does not repeat Chinese communist propaganda without challenging it. VOA repeats it without any challenge or almost no challenge nearly every time, especially in recent weeks.
Main causes of VOA’s eagerness to promote Chinese propaganda without much questioning or challenge are difficult to pinpoint. Much of it is due to poor leadership and management at the most senior level.
Another reason may be that Voice of America officials, editors and reporters are afraid of VOA being kicked out of China altogether and want to prove to the Chinese regime that they are not part of the U.S. government and will give the official Chinese positions a full airing.