Radio and Television Martí—a sister agency to Voice of America that received nearly $30 million in U.S. government funding in 2017—aired a 15-minute report describing George Soros as a “Jewish financial speculator” who was “the architect of the financial collapse of 2008.” As evidence for its claims, the segment cited only Judicial Watch, an advocacy organization currently raising funds through a campaign called “Expose Soros,” and which the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s Chief Executive later admitted is a “less-than-credible source.”
Under the Trump administration, the USAGM, staffed with members close to former White House Chief Strategist and Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon, has flagrantly breached journalistic norms in several instances, including by publishing biased content:
- In October 2018, 15 journalists were fired or disciplined for accepting bribes passed to them by a Nigerian official, and
- Shortly thereafter, VOA’s now-former Mandarin service chief, Sasha Gong, was put on leave for approving a 3-hour interview with a Chinese billionaire known for making unsubstantiated claims against the Chinese government. While on leave, Gong appeared in a Steven Bannon documentary titled ‘[email protected]’
The Trump administration used an official government media outlet as a conspiracy machine and is unlawfully withholding records that could expose how and why it did so. The administration is seeking to fire eight reporters and editors in reaction to this broadcast but refused to release documents; the public deserves to know why its tax dollars were spent broadcasting anti-Semitic messages with the imprimatur of the U.S. government.
We are taking USAGM to court for answers. We filed Freedom of Information Act requests in November 2018 and December 2018, and the Trump administration has failed to sufficiently respond.
We expect the government to respond to our lawsuit in early April.