Segment Aired on Radio and Television Martí Called George Soros a “Jewish Financial Speculator,” “Multimillionaire Jew of Hungarian Origin”
Voice of America Parent Agency Staffed with Steve Bannon Acolytes, Program Cited Judicial Watch as Sole Source
Administration Fires Eight Reporters and Editors but Refuses to Release Documents Showing How Bigoted Content was Released
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Democracy Forward sued the U.S. Agency for Global Media for refusing to release documents showing how anti-Semitic content came to be aired on a U.S. government-funded television network. The suit seeks records on a 15-minute report that was broadcast on Radio and Television Martí—a sister agency to Voice of America—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.”
“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,” said Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy. “The public deserves to know why its tax dollars were spent broadcasting anti-Semitic messages with the imprimatur of the U.S. government.”
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 bribespassed 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 ‘Trump@War.’
Radio Martí was founded in 1985 and expanded to television in 1990. Its parent agency, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, received nearly $30 million in U.S. government funding in 2017.
Democracy Forward filed Freedom of Information Act requests in November 2018 and December 2018. The Trump administration failed to provide responsive documents as required by law.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.