USAGM Watch Commentary
In a comment on the Voice of America Alumni Facebook Page, Ted Lipien wrote:
I sent my media inquiry last week to the public relations offices of the U.S. Agency for Global Media – USAGM #USAGM and the Voice of America #VOA after VOA journalists had contacted me privately and complained about the environment in which they have to work and the highly biased VOA reporting by some of their colleagues in favor of Hamas terrorists, which they noted is in violation of VOA’s own journalistic standards and the VOA Charter. The agency took its time to respond, did not answer any of my questions, and the images remained online for several more days, as reported in the National Review article.
In a new article in National Review, the magazine’s national security correspondent Jimmy Quinn reported that “two Voice of America staff members posted blatantly anti-Israel material on Facebook in the aftermath of the October 7 massacre.” The anti-Israeli content appeared on their personal Facebook pages, which included information that they work for the Voice of America.
Early into the war, VOA faced criticism for its handling of Hamas-related coverage. After the terrorist organization’s October 7 massacre of Israeli civilians, VOA’s leadership directed editorial staffers not to refer to Hamas members as terrorists unless quoting someone else using that word. VOA later reversed that directive after members of Congress demanded that it be changed.
The anti-Israel social-media posts of the VOA staffers, disclosed here for the first time, raise new questions about the culture within the outlet’s newsroom and its handling of the coverage of the war in Gaza. VOA first learned of one of the employees’ posts on January 4, when Ted Lipien, a former director of its Polish-language service, emailed the outlet. After NR contacted VOA and one of the staffers to request comment on Wednesday, both of the staffers in question took many of the anti-Israel posts down. It’s not clear if VOA directed them to do so.
“Even though the violent content was scrubbed after journalists made their inquiries, the fact that for so many days after being told about it, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and the Voice of America leadership had allowed a VOA journalist to keep on his personal social media page images calling for violence against Israel and its destruction is a disgrace. President Biden should ask USAGM CEO Amanda Bennett to step down and appoint an executive with media, foreign policy, and government experience who can save this troubled agency from years of scandals and mismanagement,” Lipien told National Review via email.