Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Voice of America is also the voice of Putin?

This is really sad: U.S. taxpayers are funding pro-Putin Voice of America programs.

Ted Lipien, former VOA acting associate director reports about the "reset" of broadcasting policy at the VOA´s Russian service:

If American taxpayers had any idea what kind of messages Voice of America (VOA) is sending in their name and at their expense to Russia, they would be hopping mad.
Opposition leaders and independent journalists in Russia have warned that the VOA Russian website has a pro-Putin bias and downplays human rights reporting, but the latest scandal brings the harm to a new level. The VOA site posted a fake interview and embarrassed a leading Russian pro-democracy figure.
The VOA is funded by Americans to broadcast information programs to countries without free media. A leading Russian anti-corruption lawyer and Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, wrote a scathing Twitter comment accusing VOA of "going nuts."
He dismissed the purported interview with him on the Russian website as "100 percent fake." He further suggested that someone in Washington should start listening and "let all these guys go."

The VOA Russian Service removed the interview and apologized to Navalny, no doubt hoping the scandal would soon blow over.

But the story was picked up by RIA Novosti news agency and other Russian media, which reported on it in Russian and English. Significantly, the VOA English website ignored the whole incident.

What we have here is not just an isolated journalistic flop. Russian opposition leaders have known for quite some time there is something fundamentally wrong with the VOA Russian website.

In early 2011, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a federal agency that runs VOA, commissioned a study from a highly respected independent journalist living in Russia.
He warned that the website favored a pro-Putin line. It even downplayed a human rights speech delivered in Moscow by Vice President Joseph Biden.

The BBG bureaucrats did not highlight this damning assessment to members of the bipartisan board or to the new VOA director, David Ensor. They told them instead that the Russian Service was doing a terrific job.

On the day the Russian Service editors were getting ready to post their apology, Ensor praised them for being a model of innovation.

Read the entire article here

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