This BBGWatch.com (USAGM – BBG Watch) video is about the Voice of America (VOA) Urdu Service one-sided social media presentation of a Joe Biden campaign video which violated the VOA Charter (U.S. law) and may influence how some Muslim Americans vote in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The Voice of America Charter (U.S. Public Law 94-350) says that “VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.” After several days on social media, the Voice of America removed the VOA Urdu Service Biden video. There are more than 390,000 Urdu speakers in the United States, many of them U.S. voters. Many of them live in Michigan. Some of them follow VOA Urdu Service programs on social media and other Internet platforms.
While Voice of America audience is primarily abroad, VOA websites and social media pages attract online traffic from the United States, although it is not huge. The VOA English-language content, however, gets a significant portion of its web traffic from the United States.
The Voice of America is 100% funded by U.S. taxpayers and is part of the federal government. VOA’s budget in FY2019 was $250 million. USAGM’s budget, which included VOA’s budget but also additional support for VOA programs and funding for other USAGM entities, was $798 million in FY2019.
A month before the U.S. presidential election in 2016, the VOA Ukrainian Service posted a one-sided anti-Trump video which some inside and outside critics described as an unprecedented violation of the VOA Charter. The service added Ukrainian subtitles and VOA logo to a video, in which Hollywood actor Robert De Niro called Trump “punk,” “dog,” “pig,” “con,” “buls**t artist,” “mutt,” “idiot,” “fool,” “bozo,” and “blatantly stupid” and condoned physical violence against him.
This may have been the first time in VOA’s history that such a one-sided partisan attack on an American politician was broadcast by VOA without any balance or context. It may have also been the first VOA program in which physical violence against an American politician was condoned without any criticism or challenge. The video was eventually removed after outside critics protested to the Broadcasting Board of Governors and VOA management. These abuses and violations were almost completely ignored by mainstream liberal media outlets such as NPR, CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post which are now accusing Trump-appointed USAGM CEO Michael Pack of trying to introduce pro-Trump propaganda into VOA.
All of this happened under the former VOA and USAGM senior management. Some of its members departed before Trump-appointed Michael Pack took charge of the agency in June 2020 and some others were replaced by him shortly thereafter.
Michael Pack’s arrival did not put a stop to all violations of the VOA Charter in favor of Democrats and Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. Even after Pack took over in June, the VOA Urdu Service produced a one-sided pro-Joe Biden presidential election campaign video composed of content originally created by Biden’s supporters and designed to win votes for him among American Muslim. When the video, which violated the VOA Charter, was discovered, it was taken down by VOA’s new interim management selected by Michael Pack.
But, as reported on June 25, 2020 by Alex Ward in VOX:
“If Joe Biden wins the presidency, he’s promising at least one staffing change: firing the CEO of a US-funded global media agency who’s accused of trying to turn it into a propaganda shop aligned with President Donald Trump’s ideology. Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the former vice president’s campaign, said Biden will oust Michael Pack from his Senate-confirmed position at the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) soon after entering the White House. The reason is simple: Biden believes Pack is trying to turn one of the world’s largest media networks into something akin to Breitbart or Trump TV. ‘Michael Pack is decidedly unqualified,’ Bates said, ‘and his actions risk hijacking invaluable, nonpartisan media institutions that stand up for fundamental American values like freedom and democracy in the world.’ USAGM is a government department that oversees five media organizations: Voice of America, Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.”