Voice Of America Under Investigation For Election Interference After Promoting A Pro-Biden Political Ad
The agency overseeing U.S. foreign broadcasting services announced Thursday that it has launched an investigation into Voice of America – a major multi-media agency with extensive global reach – after it promoted a video that “can only be described as an apparent election advertisement for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee” former Vice President Joe Biden.
CEO Michael Pack, with the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) announced the investigation into Voice of America [VOA] shortly after SaraACarter.com first reported the political ad for Biden promoted by the VOA’s Urdu services on all their multi-media platforms. Moreover, the video was branded with VOA logos throughout and at the end of the two minute ad.
Pack stated in a press release; that the content produced by VOA contractors violated the ” VOA Charter, VOA’s Best Practices Guide, VOA’s Journalistic Code, and agency standards and principles, and, further, might have constituted U.S. election interference and a violation of federal law.”
The press release notes that “there is significant concern that the VOA content targeted potential voters in the forthcoming U.S. presidential election.”
It goes on to state that an English-language translation of the revised VOA Urdu content says, “the number of Muslim voters in several key U.S. states could play a significant role in the upcoming presidential election. In the 2016 election, President Trump won Michigan with less than 11,000 votes. The number of Muslim voters in this state is 1.5 million.”
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 Biden political ad presents a possible serious Hatch Act violation.
According to a story in Politico, Thursday the VOA is now considering suspending the four contractors involved in producing and promoting the video for VOA Urdu. The Biden ad video was subsequently removed by VOA after it was discovered. However, it had already been placed on all multi-media platforms, with Urdu translation, and essentially was made available to target Muslim audiences around the world.
“USAGM staff members who attempt to influence American elections will be held accountable,” said Pack in the press release. “Our networks comprise the U.S.’s megaphone to the world, and this invaluable instrument is generously funded by the American people. To safeguard our agency’s reputation and the integrity of our content, I will continue to ensure that violations of journalistic standards and principles are dealt with swiftly and fairly. This investigation – and, indeed, every action that I have taken since starting my tenure last month – has been to repair USAGM so that, once again, U.S. government international broadcasting advances the American national interest.”
He also noted in a recent Tweet that the “investigation- and, indeed, every action that I have taken since starting my tenure last month – has been to repair @USAGMgov so that, once again, U.S. government international broadcasting advances the American national interest.”
The VOA Biden political ad not only reached American voters, but its Urdu platform is viewed by audiences in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. The video, which aired on or about July 22, was also posted on VOA’s website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram platforms. As previously reported by this website, Biden’s speech was lifted from an online event he participated in for Emgage Action’s “Million Muslim Votes”
According to Emgage Action’s website, it is a 501c(4) that is seeking “to mobilize American Muslims” and Biden urged the group of Muslim voters to vote for him in November.
“We all have the same root here, in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs…Your voice is your vote, your vote is your voice,” Biden is saying in the video.
“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.”
The press release emphasized that the “VOA-branded video promoted a voter mobilization campaign, “Million Muslim Votes,” and highlighted Biden making election promises to the Muslim-American community. Among other individuals, Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan made appearances in the video.”