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FOR ALMOST 78 years now, the Voice of America has showcased American values around the world by broadcasting a valuable commodity: truth. These days, however, Trumpian strategies could corrupt its reputation.
Trump “Truth.” Truth appears to depend on Trump’s strategic thoughts of the moment, haphazard though they may appear.
With regard to Covid-19, for example, at first Trump downplayed the epidemic in the interest of the stock market. With his administration’s lack of leadership, the U.S. has become a Covid-19 epicenter, now having about 20 percent of the world’s known cases with 4.3 percent of its population.
In a shift of Trump Truth, a more recent strategy has been to demonize China as the instigator of “Kung Flu,” as Trump called it at his recent Tulsa rally.
Packing the VOA. Earlier this year, Trump named Michael Pack to lead VOA’s overseer, the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
As reported by abcnews.go.com, June 17, 2020, Pack is “a conservative filmmaker who’s worked closely with Steve Bannon [of Breitbart fame] and is reportedly under investigation by the D.C. Attorney General for alleged self-dealing….”
“Hours after sending his first message to staff seeking to reassure them, Pack fired the head of RFA [Radio Free Asia] and RFE/RL [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] Wednesday night, with the Middle East Broadcasting Network’s chief’s termination expected soon. Their ouster comes two days after the VOA’s two top executives resigned, as the outlet faces unfounded charges from the White House and a reported blacklisting by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
ABC News continues, “Critics worry that Pack will alter the content of the VOA and its affiliates to promote the Trump administration in violation of their charter, which says they will remain editorially independent from the U.S. government, which provides its funding.”
An Opinion from The New York Times. On June 16, 2020, the Editorial Board of The New York Times wrote, “New Boss May Test Voice of America’s Credibility.”
The Editorial Board observed, “… the Voice of America was never meant to be a megaphone for the American government. The concept was the opposite: A federally funded broadcaster would showcase American values around the world by offering unbiased news and a true picture of American life. That mission is enshrined in what the VOA calls its ‘firewall,’ which ‘prohibits interference by any U.S. government official in the objective, independent reporting of news.’ ”
“Mr. Trump wants a bullhorn, not a diplomatic instrument,” the Times Editorial Board wrote, “and he insists on loyalty. The specter of turning VOA into a propaganda tool of the White House should be frightening to all Americans, regardless of political leanings.”
I agree: We must guard against this potential Trumpian travesty. In the past I haven’t followed VOA regularly, but I certainly do now, and I suggest you do the same. Let’s help VOA maintain its world cred. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020