The agency overseeing U.S. foreign broadcasting services announced Thursday evening 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.”
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) July 31, 2020
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.”
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.”
"This 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." – CEO Michael Pack
— USAGMspox (@USAGMspox) July 30, 2020
The VOA Biden political ad not only reached American voters, but its Urdu platform is viewed by audiences in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. WHY? The video, which aired on or about July 22, was also posted on VOA’s website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram platforms. Biden’s speech was lifted from an online event he participated in for Emgage Action’s “Million Muslim Votes.”