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Voice Of America Plagued By Partisan Bias. Concerns Mount As 2020 Presidential Election Draws Near

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Voice of America officials have chalked up the agency’s recent partisan based journalism as a “breach in our journalistic standards.” Senior officials have publicly apologized for the actions of its Urdu division, saying the actions of those employees to create promotional campaign ads in support of Democratic nominee Joe Biden are not endemic of the taxpayer funded agency’s goals or standards.

But the explanations that VOA officials have given don’t appear to be substantiated by the agency’s continued biased coverage against the Republican party. After a review of numerous explanatory political videos describing America’s history and political system, as well as stories regarding the 2020 election, SaraACarter.com has found not only historical inaccuracies but continued themes suggesting the Democratic Party is the most equitable party. The assessment was based on a review of the videos, interviews and complaints from U.S. government employees who spoke to this reporter and a well-known presidential historian, who also reviewed the news network’s videos.

Moreover, the VOA, which reaches more than 280 million people a week, is frequently used as a go-to network for American immigrants and others, making its biased coverage an even more daunting concern as the nation is still reeling from ongoing racial divide and a contentious 2020 presidential election.

Doug Wead, a conservative presidential historian and author of 31 non-fiction books, said the videos he’s reviewed from VOA “are biased.” He noted the messaging depicts Democrats as as the party of equality and civil rights, while depicting Republicans as more divisive and racist. Wead is also the author of the best selling book Inside Trump’s White House: The Real Story of His Presidency.

“The VOA history as depicted in these promo videos is slanted and incomplete. It is outrageous that taxpayers should have to pay for political promotion.”

Doug Wead, author and presidential historian.

“There have been five recent presidents – in modern times – who have used the N word publicly,” said Wead. “Four of them were Democrats. Here are the five. Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, LBJ and Barack Obama. Not Donald Trump.”

Wead went on to say that “the VOA history ignores the fact that every slave-owning president was a Democrat. It fails to point out that the founders of the Democratic Party, Jefferson and Jackson were Democrats. And that Jefferson-Jackson day fundraisers are still held annually across America to raise money for their party.”

“The VOA history as depicted in these promo videos is slanted and incomplete,” said Wead. “It is outrageous that tax payers should have to pay for political promotion.”

VOA Adds Republican Party History Video After Being Called Out

Last week, VOA Public Relations Director Bridget Ann Serchak responded to SaraACarter.com saying that “the video in question is one in a long series of “explainers” prepared by Voice of America to explain processes and issues in the American system of government to international audiences.”

“The video did not name any political party and simply laid out what people are talking about when they speak of voter suppression,” said Serchak.”This is an important issue to our audiences, many of which live in countries where free and fair elections are a rarity.”

Serchak said she could not comment as to the actions taken against employees at VOA’s Urdu Service that promoted and produced the Biden political ad that was shown globally on its platform. She also referred to the VOA’s Charter, “enshrined in law since 1976, is a requirement for all VOA journalists and clearly outlines our commitment to providing accurate, objective and comprehensive news to its global audience.”

On Monday, nearly a week after SaraACarter.com called for comment questioning the VOA regarding Democratic history video, the agency posted an educational video depicting the beginning of the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln.

2020 Election Coverage Raising Serious Concerns

Scrutiny over VOA’s news coverage has heightened over the past several months. The most recent had to do with its Urdu broadcasting service. The target audience is mainly in South Asia, parts of India and Urdu speaking, as well as Muslim immigrants in the United States, who access the platform regularly. Last month, employees from the Urdu Service produced a campaign video with Democratic nominee Biden, where it appeared that Biden’s campaign was asking the American Muslim community to support him in the election. It basically stated that the 1 million-plus Muslim U.S. voters could make a difference if they voted for Biden.

Shortly after SaraACarter.com exposed the political ad, VOA officials had it taken down and the situation is currently under investigation. VOA Director Elez Biberaj told employees in an August, 7 memo, that the recent VOA Urdu Services actions were partisan and a  “serious breach of our journalistic standards and a violation of the VOA Charter…” that “implied VOA’s endorsement of a partisan election message.” Some employees were allegedly suspended for their involvement, according to sources familiar with the situation who spoke to this reporter.

Biberaj added in the memo, which was obtained by the government watchdog group BBG Watch that “appropriate corrective action is being taken and the editorial approval process in the Urdu Service has been reviewed and strengthened.” He provided no further details, but USAGM Watch reported that they had learned “that changes in personnel are expected.”

Its responsibility is to provide unbiased media on U.S. policies for foreign countries and entities. VOA employs roughly 1,078 people, as well as hundreds of foreign contractors but even that has come under scrutiny. Recent investigations have revealed that many of the foreign contractors, even some from hostile countries, have not been properly vetted when entering and working in the United States. The issue has raised serious concerns among lawmakers that state VOA’s failure is a serious national security threat to the county.

VOA’s Urdu Divisions Biden Campaign Ad Only The Tip Of The Iceberg Those Familiar Suggest

Inside the newsroom, employees keep their concerns to themselves. These government employees know that if they address anything publicly they could lose their jobs and the government pensions that come with it.

VOA’s Urdu “pseudo” campaign ad for Biden is only the tip of the iceberg, said several current and former employees connected to the agency and interviewed by this reporter.

Moreover, these former and current employees say the problems are exacerbated by the fact that the VOA has an average annual budget of roughly $234.7 million taxpayer dollars. Its actions are directly contradictory to the agency’s goals and edict in covering news to inform its foreign audiences. As for USAGM, the budget is more than $637 million for 2020.

Compounding the issue is recent information revealing the serious national security concerns regarding its hiring practices and failure to screen of foreign workers, many who have entered the United States and now have high level security clearances at other U.S. government agencies.

Those familiar with the problems plaguing VOA, who spoke to SaraACarter.com, stressed that the agency has a remarkable reach and shouldn’t be dismantled but restructured in such a way to balance the coverage.

The newsroom is plagued by biased, according to several sources. It is almost impossible to get VOA employees to discuss what many have said behind closed doors to be unbalanced coverage.

Other former VOA employees, like Dan Robinson, are now working to expose the bias at the agency. These volunteers hope that the VOA can return to its original mandate to provide balanced coverage of U.S. news globally. It’s going to be a challenge, they say.

BBG Watch and USAGM Watch website is edited and published by unpaid volunteers, including many current and former employees of U.S. international broadcasting,” as stated Robinson and the website.

Robinson, who is retired from the VOA and was also a whistleblower against the agency, has published a multitude of significant investigations on the watchdog site concerning the upcoming presidential elections.

The oversight being conducted by Robinson, along with other volunteers, is working to restore good management and sharp news focus to taxpayer-funded American media outreach abroad. BBG Watch – USAGM Watch (bbgwatch.com) also continues as USAGM Watch (usagmwatch.com), but both websites are now updated with the same new content. 

U.S. Agency for Global Media [USAGM] Suitability Program, CEO Michael Pack, is overseeing changes at VOA. He is the first to be Senate-confirmed and, according to sources, has been ordering comprehensive investigations into malfeasance at the agency. According to officials who spoke to this reporter, Pack is looking into potential damage to U.S. national security, as well as failures inside VOA to provide clear, objective and unbiased coverage to audiences around the globe.

But accomplishing that goal has become even more precarious under the Trump administration as there has been a backlash against the administration and anti-Trump sentiment. These sources, who asked not to be named, said the VOA’s growing opposition to the Republican Party, however, has been around for decades.

During the 1970’s and 80″s “the Democratic Party, including the governor, Jerry Brown and then Senator Joe Biden opposed immigration from Asian citizens.

Doug Wead, author and presidential historian

Moreover any insinuation that the Republican Party itself, or discussion that President Trump is a racist is certainly false on its face, said Wead.

He noted that in his interviews with Trump “he expressed great delight and joy over all of the actions he had taken for African Americans, including the First Step Act, which resulted in more than 20,000 released from prisons, making permanent the government donations to Black Colleges, and the lowest unemployment among African Americans ever recorded.”

Further, said Wead “VOA ignores the story of American citizenship and how and why it emerged. The Alien and Sedition Act, passed during the presidency of John Adams, required that an immigrant live in the United States for 17 years before becoming a citizen. The founding fathers were trying to forge a new nation of like minded people and they wanted them to abandon their tribes and become one people with one language.”

Wead said that the VOA fails to inform its viewers of the correct historical context of immigration in the United States.

“Immigration has been encouraged or opposed all through American history for complicated reasons,” he noted. For example, during the 1970’s and 80″s “the Democratic Party, including the governor, Jerry Brown and then Senator Joe Biden opposed immigration from Asian citizens. These were the Vietnam boat people fleeing communism in SE Asia. Brown blocked Travis Air Force base from being used to bring in Vietnamese orphaned children. Biden said they would take jobs from deserving Americans,” said Wead.

“In general, Democrats tend to favor immigration from African and Hispanic countries because the immigrants often support the Democratic Party,” he said. “And they oppose Asians and White immigrants who tend to vote Republican.”

One source directly familiar with the situation at VOA described the English language newsroom as failing to be intellectually diverse, meaning the leadership is almost all Democratic liberal leaning.

“It is very frustrating,” the source said “The English newsroom has no intellectual diversity. Nothing is going to change about the VOA’s newsroom’s output until a permanent director is put in place. I don’t want VOA to be Trump T.V. I just want VOA to be faithful to its charter. We need new managers in charge.”




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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”

Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.

RELATED: ‘Let’s play strip poker’: Fmr. Cuomo aide accuses NY governor of sexual harassment

Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.

RELATED: De Blasio ‘sickened’ by Cuomo sexual harassment claims

“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”

“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”

This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”

RELATED: Cuomo responds to sexual harassment claims, saying he ‘may have been insensitive’

During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.

“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”

“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”

Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.

RELATED: ‘Eat the whole sausage: Gov. Cuomo in hot water for resurfaced video

Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.

“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”

Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.

“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”

He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.

Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”

“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.

MORE ON CUOMO: NY dem says state legislature is ‘inching toward’ Cuomo impeachment probe

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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