VOA and BBG Management Ignored Repeated Warnings About Hateful Social Media Posts

Ann Noonan and Ted Lipien at BBG Miami Meeting, June 20, 2014


November 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

Voice of America and Broadcasting Board of Governors Senior Management Ignored Repeated Warnings About Hateful Social Media Posts by A Handful of VOA Journalists But Wants to Fire Mandarin Service Broadcasters Who Stood Up for Freedom of Information in China

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting

While the latest allegations of racist, sexist and homophobic social media posts attributed in media reports to a Voice of America reporter are still being investigated, and any journalist named must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, these allegations are so extremely serious that nothing but the strongest condemnation and effective management reforms are in order, especially since there have been many previously documented incidents which the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Voice of America (VOA) management failed to treat seriously.

CUSIB has repeatedly warned BBG and VOA leadership, as well as BBG Board members, about multiple and repeated obscene social media posts and abusive public statements by a few VOA reporters, which included an F-word to describe the President-elect, a sexual joke about the future First Lady, an obscene sexual meme, an obscene gesture directed against pro-freedom demonstrators in the United States, and other degrading content. A group of employees working for VOA also attacked an independent American media outlet working to increase transparency in U.S. government. While CUSIB fully supports free expression, such public behavior by U.S. government employees during working hours or at any time while they identify themselves as VOA journalists reflects on the reputation and the mission of the Voice of America, which is a public institution belonging to all Americans, and on the journalistic profession.

In the case of BBG and VOA, these journalists are employed by the federal government and their salaries are paid by U.S. taxpayers.

We have not heard of any major disciplinary actions or any other effective measures taken by the BBG and VOA management in response to earlier incidents and our earlier warnings over the last two years. If the latest allegations are true, they are just the tip of the iceberg. The senior executives of both BBG and VOA must be held accountable for allowing such abusive behavior by a few VOA journalists to continue. They should step down and allow new leaders to implement effective measures against the misuse of public positions and public money to advance a personal agenda.

While not taking any effective action against such abuses, the BBG/VOA leadership in charge of what the 2017 Office of Personnel Management (OPM) survey found to be the worst-managed medium size federal agency with the lowest employee morale, is moving ahead with its plan to fire three VOA Mandarin Service broadcasters and to discipline other Chinese-born employees. Their only crime was not responding quickly to confusing and contradictory management orders to shorten an interview with Chinese whistleblower Guo Wengui. VOA Mandarin Service journalists believed the uncut interview to be extremely important for supporting freedom of information in communist China. Such pettiness on the part of the BBG/VOA and extreme punishment proposed against foreign-born employees who sincerely believed to be defending media freedom in China and at the Voice of America in Washington makes the management’s lack of action to put a stop to social media hate speech by a few of VOA’s non-Chinese reporters even more appalling.

Photo: Ann Noonan and Ted Lipien at BBG Miami Meeting, June 20, 2014.

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) is an independent, nongovernmental organization which supports free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries without free media.

For further information, please contact:
Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Tel. 646-251-6069

Ted Lipien, co-founder and Director
Tel. 415-793-1642


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