On Sunday, after employees of Voice of America sent a letter blasting a “planned live broadcast through VOA’s worldwide channels of a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo” scheduled for Monday, Pompeo fired back on Twitter, stating, “Voice of America employees complaining about broadcasting … the voice of America’s most senior diplomat? Seems like exactly what we should be doing to promote American values abroad.”
Voice of America employees complaining about broadcasting … the voice of America’s most senior diplomat? Seems like exactly what we should be doing to promote American values abroad. Tune in to hear my remarks about American Greatness & America First tomorrow at 3pm ET. pic.twitter.com/VJ8jsTUwkO
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) January 10, 2021
Pompeo is scheduled to speak at VOA headquarters in the Cohen Building about the importance of VOA and the challenges facing the United States. Robert R. Reilly, the Director of Voice of America, announced, “The program will begin at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time in the auditorium and will last about half an hour. It will be broadcast live by the services that are on the air at that time. The video and transcript will be made available to the house for later use as well. In accordance with COVID-19 protocols, seating in the auditorium will be limited.”
The condemnatory letter came from self-described “whistleblowers.” Government Accountability Project’s Senior Counsel David Seide, who signed the letter, wrote, “The Pompeo event is plainly a publicity stunt devoid of public interest and thus constitutes a gross misuse of government resources.”
The letter stated: “The statutory firewall protects VOA journalists and editors from outside political meddling. A broadcast speech by the outgoing Secretary of State on topics on which he has been widely covered should be seen for what it is: the use of VOA to disseminate political propaganda in the waning days of the Trump administration. As proposed, the planned coverage by language services will be one-sided and lacking the necessary objectivity protected by the firewall. It is political meddling.”
“The event is also a gross misuse of government resources,” the letter continued. “We understand that, currently, 18 employees are working on event preparations. But for that assignment, they would not be producing editorial content for VOA services. On the day of the event, we further understand that eight employees have been assigned to work in the VOA auditorium and 10 elsewhere around VOA headquarters. Additionally, we understand $4,000 in taxpayer funds have been spent to date. The event is plainly a publicity stunt devoid of public interest and thus constitutes a gross misuse of government resources. For these reasons, we request that the Secretary’s speech not be broadcast live through VOA services and that no live VOA audience be used.”
The whistleblowers concluded with an overtly snarky assertion, writing, “Based on past experience, we expect you to disregard and thus reject this request.”
VOA too often speaks for America’s adversaries—not its citizens. The Coronavirus pandemic is no exception. Secrecy from the Communist Party of China allowed the deadly virus to spread across the world. Journalists should report the facts, but VOA has instead amplified Beijing’s propaganda. This week, VOA called China’s Wuhan lockdown a successful “model” copied by much of the world—and then tweeted out video of the Communist government’s celebratory light show marking the quarantine’s alleged end.
Even worse, while much of the U.S. media takes its lead from China, VOA went one step further: It created graphics with Communist government statistics to compare China’s Coronavirus death toll to America’s. As intelligence experts point out, there is simply no way to verify the accuracy of China’s numbers.
The statement noted, “The Coronavirus story is just one example of this pattern. Last year, VOA helped highlight the Twitter feed of Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif while he was issuing threats against the U.S. and sharing Russian anti-U.S. propaganda videos.”