White House attacks Voice of America

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The White House launched an extraordinary attack on Voice of America, saying the federally funded but independent news service had promoted Chinese government propaganda in its reporting about the coronavirus outbreak. The critique was found on the official White House website, flagging its brief statement with a provocative headline: “Amid a Pandemic, Voice of America Spends Your Money to Promote Foreign Propaganda.” The statement was preceded by a barbed tweet on April 9 from Dan Scavino, President Trump’s social media director. In sharing VOA’s tweet showing a Chinese celebration marking the end of a lockdown, Scavino wrote, “American taxpayers—paying for China’s very own propaganda, via the U.S. Government funded Voice of America! DISGRACE!!”  The stinging public criticism, which may be unprecedented by an administration since VOA was founded in 1942, took VOA officials by surprise.

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you what prompted it,” said Amanda Bennett, VOA’s director. “I don’t actually know. It just came out of the blue.” VOA has for decades provided audio, video and print news reports in multiple languages around the world, often serving as the only source of independent information in countries where the domestic news media is censored or state-controlled. Although funded by Congress, VOA is screened from political influence by an independent board, called the US Agency for Global Media. However, President Trump has occasionally given indications that he wanted to wrest more control of the board and VOA itself.

White House attacks Voice of America, claiming it promoted Chinese propaganda White House Attacks Voice Of America Over China Coronavirus Coverage (NPR)