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LET’S CELEBRATE THE VOA, NOT CORRUPT IT! PART 1

IN AN EVER-GROWING list of things Trump and his connivers are corrupting, the Voice of America may be next. Imagine if this highly regarded international news service had the reputation of Fox News, Breitbart, or Tea Party—or, for that matter, Occupy Democrats or the Palmer Report.

Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits on the latest Trumpian assault on truth.

The Background. Voice of America is a multimedia government agency overseen by the Agency for Global Media, an independent agency of the U.S. government. VOA was established not long after the U.S. entered World War II. The inaugural broadcast to Germany on February 1, 1942, included this pledge: “The news may be good or bad for us—We will always tell you the truth.”

As described in Wikipedia, “By the end of the war, VOA had 39 transmitters and provided service in 40 languages.” About half of VOA’s services were discontinued in peacetime, but the Cold War led to a resurgence of activity, seen as a counter to Russian propaganda.

Since then, VOA has expanded its credibility and audiences around the world. For example, the Voice of America Jazz Hour was broadcast beginning in 1955 through 2003, then incorporated into the Jazz America program of VOA Music Mix (now VOA1).

VOA entrance hall, Washington, DC. Image by Diaa Bekheet from voanews.com.

In 1994, VOA became the first broadcast news organization to offer continuously updated programs on the Internet. For its version in English, see VOA News.

Trump on the VOA. On April 9, 2020, the White House released a news item titled, “Voice of America Spends Your Money to Speak for Authoritarian Regimes.” At issue was VOA’s reporting that China’s Wuhan lockdown had been successful in countering the pandemic.

Said the White House item: “Journalists should report the facts, but VOA has instead amplified Beijing’s propaganda.”

Image by Evan Vucci/AP from USA Today.

Yet, earlier in January and February of this year, Trump repeatedly praised China and its leaders in their response to the growing epidemic.

As an example, on February 23, 2020, Trump said, “I think President Xi is working very, very hard. I spoke to him. He’s working very hard. I think he’s doing a very good job. It’s a big problem. But President Xi loves his country. He’s working very hard to solve the problem, and he will solve the problem. OK?”

So which is it? High (albeit poorly articulated) praise or Beijing propaganda?

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll examine Trump “Truth,” packing the VOA, and opinions of this Trumpian travesty. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020

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