Voice Of America Promoted A Pro-Biden Muslim Political Campaign Ad, Then Removed It
This story is developing and will be updated.
Voice of America posted what appears to be a political campaign ad on at least one of its social media platform last week, asking the Muslim community both in the United States and abroad to support Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden.
The ad, which was uploaded in late July to VOA’s Facebook page, used a speech Biden recently made during an online rally with the Muslim Advocacy Group, Emgage Action. In that rally he addressed Muslim voters in the United States, as reported.
The two plus minute political ad, which was uploaded to VOA’s Urdu Facebook account on or about July 21, used the VOA logo, was apparently translated into Urdu and promoted Biden for president to Urdu speakers globally.
The incident has been verified by a U.S. official familiar with the ad and its eventual removal from the VOA’s Facebook page. Further, the political ad uses a music video by artist Zeshan B, with the song Brown Power. Zeshan B, who is from Chicago, had attended Eid at the Obama White House and produced his first album later in 2017. This website could not reach Zeshan B. for comment.
VOA, which was established in 1942, is considered the premiere U.S. agency for global media outreach. In fact, it is a U.S. government tax payer funded international broadcast entity with an annual budget of roughly $234.7 million. The agency has employees roughly 1,078 people, as well as hundreds of foreign contractors.
The campaign clip opens with Biden’s address participants to the Emgage Action USA.
The ad uses Biden’s promise to “end the Muslim ban on day one” if he is elected to office. (For clarification, there is no Muslim ban in the United States.)
The Biden campaign did not return emails, however, sources familiar with the ad, said it does not appear that Biden’s campaign was aware of it, or approved it.
VOA did not immediately respond to numerous emails for comment.
According to the source, it appears that VOA employees “repackaged an ad” to post on the site in support of Biden.
Biden’s comments from his video conference with Emgage Action is the bulk of the ad, which uses scare tactics on Muslim voters to effort their support for Biden. It is not certain, at this point in time, what group or person produced the video but the VOA posted it with their logo on their social media platforms, a U.S. government official confirmed.
“We all have the same root here, in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs…Your voice is your vote, your vote is your voice,” says Biden.
“I’ll be a president that seeks out and incorporates and listens to the ideas and concerns of Muslim Americans on everyday issues that matter most to our communities,” he says. “That will include having Muslim American voices as part of my administration.”
Rep. Andy Biggs, R- Arizona and Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told this website Monday night that if this video was posted on VOA’s social media platform it should be investigated.
“It is outrageous that VOA, a taxpayer funded communications organization, used its platform to campaign for Biden,” Biggs said.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Muslim Right’s Activist Linda Sarsour, who have been criticized for their anti-semitic statements and actions, also appear in the video, which promotes the website the Million Muslim Vote. It is sponsored by Emgage, a political PAC supporting Biden in November. The website states that every dollar “you contribute will go towards ensuring that the voices of Muslim American communities are heard during the 2020 Presidential Elections.”
Partners of Emgage are listed on their website as Council On American Islamic Relations (CAIR), My Muslim Vote, American Pakistan Foundation, Muslim Women For, MPowerChange, and the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations.
The ad, which is yet of unknown origin but used by VOA online, was obtained exclusively by SaraACarter.com and appears to have been translated into Urdu, a language spoken in Pakistan, and in large swaths of India and Afghanistan.
The campaign ad, which appears to have been based of a video produced by EmgageUSA.org, a Muslim American organization, was apparently rebranded by VOA and used on its platforms, according to the sources.
“That will include having Muslim American voices as part of my administration,” Former Vice President Joe Biden
Posting the video by VOA appears to directly conflict with its charter and may be a considered a Hatch Act violation, said several officials familiar with the ad.
For example, VOA’s charter specifically stated that it “will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive” news site.
Moreover, the charter emphasizes that the news organization “will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.”
Lastly, the charter promises that “VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.”
As for the Video it is not certain who produced it but it appears to have been altered by VOA employees who added the logo to its content.
The video opens with Biden’s comments to the Muslim group as he quotes the Prophet Mohammed from the Koran.
“Mohammed instructs,” says Biden. “Whoever among you sees wrong, let him change it with his hand. If he is not able, then with his tongue. If he is not able, then with his heart…”
Then the political ad changes to a group of presumably Muslim people walking through a field where a man dressed as a U.S. police officer is frisking a black man and then hands him a backpack.
The voiceover states “make no mistake people 2020 is our year. Let’s dive into it with 20/20 vision. We can see clearly that America is fighting for its very soul.”
BBG Watch and USAGM Watch, a watchdog group which monitors the VOA, along with other U.S. government international broadcast stations, has investigated extensive concerns regarding employees working for VOA and continued problems with promoting anti-American or partisan political commentary and news.
Those working for the watchdog group are “unpaid volunteers, including many current and former employees of U.S. international broadcasting. They are working to restore good management and sharp news focus to taxpayer-funded American media outreach abroad.”
SaraACarter.com will continue to follow this story as it develops.