Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the United Nations to Wall Street to the Inner City

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Follow us on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis



ICP on YouTube

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

As VOA Says Baby Food Into Ukraine Supports "Rebel Babies," US Policy?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 22 -- While the US Congress considers making the link between Voice of America and US foreign policy even clearer, a troubling exchange took place in the UN press briefing room on August 22.

  At a press conference on aid to Ukraine by Russia's Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Voice of America's long time UN bureau chief asked Churkin if the aid convoy “is really just an effort to re-supply the pro-Russia separatist rebels.”

   Churkin asked, “With baby food?”

Rebels have babies too,” replied the VOA bureau chief, Margaret Besheer.

     This implies that feeding babies of rebels can legitimately be stopped -- that is, either collective punishment, or starving a child based on who its parents are.

This is the Voice of America? Overseen by the US Broadcasting Board of Governors on which US Secretary of State John Kerry serves?

At the August 13 meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Congressional proposals to confirm Voice of America as propaganda were the elephant in the room - but were barely mentioned.

   Instead, BBG board members were regaled with more than an hour of self-promotional videos, for example about how RFE/RL covers Ukraine and evades censorship.

 This ignored that Voice of America's David Ensor and Steve Redisch tried to censor the investigative Press at the UN (click here), and its Freedom of Information Act office now routinely denies all Press requests, about funding in Afghanistan and other topics. Learning from some countries they cover?

  RFE/RL's Nanad Pejic spoke of Ukraine as if all attacks on the media were under what he called the "former government." But what of current blocking of websites and attacks on journalists?

   A staffer calling in to the meeting bragged of partnering with the station owned by "the richest Ukrainian" and of embedding with Kyiv's army and its paramilitaries. She described the siege and lack of water in Lugansk as a humanitarian crisis. But is that how they report it?

  NSC's Ben Rhodes was to call into the board meeting, but couldn't until 12:15 pm. So the BBG public meeting was adjourned.

 On August 22, Rhodes briefed the media and said the US is telling Russia to remove the convoy from Ukraine, or the US will work with its partners to increase the costs.

  It was hard not to return to Voice of America and the starving of "rebel babies."

 A documentary about Armenians in Syria was shown -- with no mention of the armed opposition's or terrorist group's attacks on Armenians in Kessab. BBG is already propaganda.

   This was belatedly covered by the New York Times last month, but the Times ignored the role of VOA and its Broadcasting Board of Governors as censors, trying for example to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

  The Times covered the House of Representatives bill which Inner City Press panned in April, focusing on a split between the union and some who work at VOA. 

   Alongside the draft US law to further make "clear that the Voice of America mission is to support U.S. public diplomacy efforts," there are still claims that VOA currently is more independent than this.

   At the United Nations, this has hardly been the case. On April 15, 2014, France's now-gone Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud told a reporter for what's called Shi'ite media, "You are not a journalist, you are an agent." But VOA's questions are no less directed.

 Significantly, Voice of America not only at the UN but from its Washington headquarters, in a formal complaint submitted to the current UN spokesman by editor Steve Redisch with the approval of supervisor David Ensor, asked the UN to "review the accreditation" of the investigative Press, click here for that.

  In e-mails subsequently obtained by Inner City Press under the Freedom of Information Act, the VOA bureau chief sought and said she had obtained support for censorship from the United Nations Correspondents Association and the bureau chiefs of Agence France Presse and Reuters, here, here and then here (censorship under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act).

  Back on January 8, with Voice of America's Broadcasting Board of Governors still not having addressed censorship bids by VOA which it oversees, President Obama nominated to the BBG Michael W. Kempner, a founder of New Jersey's ConnectOne Bancorp and a bundler of campaign contributions.

   We asked and ask again, why does the US government need a propaganda network, and why turn it loose inside the US? And why would its BBG, after first granting Freedom of Information Act access and fee waivers then try to reverse all this after the documents released proved embarrassing?

  After that, BBG's FOIA Officer Andrew Krog suspended processing in the October 2013 government "funding lapse;" then Appeals Access Committee chair Marie Lennon denied access to any documents about taxpayer funded BBG programming in Sudan and Afghanistan (see below.)

 Back on July 2, 2013, Inner City Press published a short critique of Voice of America and its Broadcasting Board of Governors, here.

  In the three days that followed, mail poured in providing yet more detailed accounts of BBG and Voice of America incompetence and assaults on the principles they supposedly uphold.

  The union that represents workers there, AFGE Local 1812, has written that

poor morale was made markedly worse by a decision in 2010 to re-appoint the present newsroom director [Sonja Pace]. A correspondent since the 1980’s, she had been reassigned from the position of news chief more than a decade earlier. Fast forward to 2010: An audio recording of an open meeting in VOA’s newsroom shows that strong protests against the reappointment of the former news director were dismissed by VOA's Executive Editor [Steve Redisch] a former CNN employee. In the recording, the Executive Editor rejected staff concerns, saying 'you’re responsible for your own morale.' Though he has known of the morale crisis in VOA’s Central News Division created by the 2010 decision, current VOA director David Ensor has allowed this situation to continue.”

  Inner City Press in 2012 had its own experience of these three individuals. VOA's Executive Editor Steve Redisch wrote to the UN asking that Inner City Press' accreditation be “reviewed.”

  The only communication Inner City Press had received from VOA or BBG in Washington prior to this was from Sonja Pace, that “regarding VOA’s Charter and Code, we absolutely stand by those mandates and guidelines, without exception.”

  Apparently Voice of America's principles don't include the First Amendment. Subsequent inquiring under the Freedom of Information Act found David Ensor involved in the decision to try to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. Ensor served the US State Department in Afghanistan and perhaps re-formed his view of press freedom there.

  In mid 2013, the Obama administration nominated former Afghanistan envoy Ryan Crocker to join the then half-empty Broadcasting Board of Governors, along with John Kerry, while claiming that the output under the BBG is entirely independent from the US government. This is not credible.

  The Colombia Journalism Review, with its own conflicts, has made this point, and BBG has belatedly responded. Will any of this finally bring accountability? Watch this site.

Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2013 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]