USAGM Watch Commentary UPDATE
It took three days, protests from East Central European immigrant communities in the United States, and two corrections to get the Voice of America (VOA) in the $800-million federal U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) to include Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland on the VOA map showing countries giving humanitarian and other aid to Ukrainian war refugees and to the Ukrainian government. The initial omission of Poland by VOA was an especially serious case of news disinformation since Poland was the first country to provide aid to Ukrainian war refugees and accepted by far the largest number of them, several hundred thousand by now. Poland and Slovakia were added by VOA after protests, but it took more protests to get VOA to include Hungary, which did not give Ukraine military aid but is providing humanitarian aid and has already accepted more than 140,000 war refugees. The second correction to include Hungary was made by VOA late Saturday, March 05, 2022.
Previously on USAGM Watch
Voice of America Corrected Aid to Ukraine Map to Include Poland and Slovakia – Hungary and Other Countries Still Missing
While the Voice of America corrected its “Aid to Ukraine” map to include Poland and Slovakia after protests from Polish Americans and Slovak Americans, some other countries, including Hungary, are still missing from VOA’s “corrected” map.
USAGM Watch Commentary
The Voice of America management advanced a lame excuse that VOA English Central Newsroom editors were relying on data from the French Press Agency AFP, but the map VOA posted on March 2, 2022, which omitted Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and some other countries, was put online when multiple Western news agencies and media outlets had been already reporting for several days that Poland was accepting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees and offering them free transportation, accommodations, and medical care on an unprecedented scale. It was also widely reported at the time VOA first posted its map that Slovakia and Hungary were already accepting tens of thousands of refugees and offering them aid, as well as providing humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian government. The VOA Charter requires VOA – not AFP – to provide accurate, balanced, and comprehensive news.
The government of Hungary announced that it would not provide military aid to Ukraine, but, as of today, Hungary has accepted 140,000 refugees from Ukraine and provided them with free medical care. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Hungary would continue to offer humanitarian help to Ukraine but would not supply arms. The VOA map claims to cover both humanitarian and military aid.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is considered an ally of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, but this does not change the fact that the Hungarian people and even his government are providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine and to Ukrainian refugees. They should not be ignored by VOA with disinformation about their humanitarian efforts. The Hungarian opposition is highly critical of Orbán. Rejecting Orbán’s statement that the opposition was “on the side of war”, the Hungary Today website reported that “the United for Hungary alliance has called on Orbán to ‘try to mitigate the fallout of war rather than lying, slandering and inciting hatred’.”
Hungarian Americans may not have been informed about the VOA map, but USAGM Watch reported that Polish American and Slovak American immigrants protested Voice of America’s news disinformation on aid to Ukraine.
Chinese Americans, Iranian Americans, Cuban Americans, and leaders of other refugee, immigrant, and ethnic communities in the United States have complained in recent years that the management of the Voice of American and the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) has allowed hostile propaganda and disinformation from dictatorial and authoritarian regimes to seep into VOA programs.
Former VOA Newsroom correspondents who are now retired have complained that VOA English news website has failed to carry live Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s remarks addressed to the people in Russia. Such news failures have been common at VOA over many years under current and recent Voice of American and U.S. Agency for Global Media senior executives. Yolanda López serves as acting Voice of America Director. Kelu Chao is acting U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO.
“What’s the agenda? Or are they simply this sloppy? ” one Polish American Facebook user asked.
Another Polish American wrote: “Wow, that’s almost as bad as intentional disinformation.”
The same Facebook user added:
How could VOA reporters and editors not know what Poland has been doing to help Ukraine. It took the largest number of Ukrainian refugees by far. The Poles and the Ukrainians should be outraged, as well as the Slovaks.
Another Facebook user left a comment:
I keep wondering why the news has not mentioned Slovakia as a neighboring country offering help. Ugh
Obviously, whoever put this map together had no clue of what they were doing. Another example of stupidity that permeates todays world. No Poland and Slovakia on the map? Idiots!!!
One reader wrote: “I asked [VOA] for a new map. Let’s see what happens!”
A now-former Voice of America Director questioned some time ago while still in charge of the Voice of America whether the U.S. government should have required President Putin’s state propaganda channel RT to register in the United States as a foreign agent.