RM Sources Confirmed by Politico: Pushback Against Trump-Hating NeoLibCon Bias at Taxpayer-Funded VOA Begins...

We present this update to our January 21st story, not just to vindicate our own reporting or the quality of RogueMoney's Washington D.C. sources, but also to demonstrate once again how the Trumpening is threatening a rather stodgy or lazy status quo across multiple bureaucracies. Particularly those like VOA, which emerged out of the first Cold War and which hawks in Congress demand consciously see itself as an instrument of information warfare (even if 'debunking' 'Kremlin lies') in Cold War 2.0.

The Wilbur J. Cohen building at 330 Independence Avenue SW, where Voice of America (VOA) has been based since 1954. The 'Egyptian Revival' designed building opened in 1939

From VOA's persistent critics at BBG Watch, a site for former RFE/RL and VOA professionals to rue the current state of the U.S. taxpayer funded news agencies...

Before we get to our main topic…

Out Of Commission!

By practice, the Voice of America (VOA) marks its anniversary on/or about February 1 each year. The year 2017 would mark the agency’s 75th anniversary.

Agency employees and others were surprised to learn that the activities planned for the anniversary celebration had to be cancelled.


The explanation making the rounds is that the auditorium of the Cohen Building is:

“Out of commission.”

We’re not sure what the situation is as no further details have been provided. The Cohen Building, like all Federal buildings, is maintained by the General Services Administration [GSA], but it is up to BBG officials to plan for such events ahead of time and to be prepared for all eventualities. As usual, they obviously did not plan. Nothing unusual at this agency.

Dysfunctional management of the “practically defunct” (Hillary Clinton’s words) agency aside, with the passage of time, sustaining enthusiasm for this kind of observance presents other challenges. The agency which governs the Voice of America has lost a significant portion of its luster and together with VOA has been long drifting toward obscurity. It doesn’t help to be labeled:

“Regular Bottom Feeder” ; “Going Backward” Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson “Federal Insider,” The Washington Post, September 20, 2016.
“Dysfunctional” (Heritage Foundation scholar Helle C. Dale)
“Practically Defunct” (Hillary Clinton)
“Broken” (US statesmen, diplomats, media experts and journalists interviewed by former BBG member S. Enders Wimbush and former Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty executive Elizabeth M. Portale)
“Truly Rudderless” or Leaderless (Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce)

It also doesn’t help to have garnered – and done so with great diligence – the reputation of having become one of the worst agencies in the Federal government.

Cumulatively, the atmospherics inside the Cohen Building are dark at best. The postponement of the 75th VOA anniversary adds to it.

Nevertheless, senior agency officials will do their best to put on a big display which they will dutifully march off to the Cohen Building auditorium to watch – reminding us ironically of government-staged events in some foreign countries where most people would rather not live if they had a choice.

Add to that the agency approaching artistic groups from among the ethnic communities in the Washington, DC area to provide entertainment without compensation for their time and effort.

For most of the working staff, they don’t see much of the doings. At best, maybe bits and pieces, because after all, somebody has to be working inside the Cohen Building while the managers go off to do their preening in the auditorium.

But now – there’s no auditorium! It’s “out of commission.” You honestly can’t make up this kind of stuff. Of late, whatever these apparatchiks touch turns to… Well, you get the picture.

Burrowing In

Throughout the Federal Government, there has been a flurry of vacancy announcements in advance of the Trump administration. This is nothing new. It has been going on for years when administrations change. It’s something that leads people to remark that the bureaucracy is another branch of government and seemingly one that revels in the lack of accountability. But the stated intention of the new administration to freeze hiring has added a sense of urgency.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (or whatever US Government international media will be called in the future) is no exception.

Given the agency’s earned reputation for being rotten to the core, one has to believe the intent is to burrow in people representative not as much of the previous administration but rather to preserve the bureaucracy’s agenda. The last thing this is intended to do is to make the agency run better. The intended outcome is to perpetuate business as usual and by extension to undermine any attempt to bring about necessary reforms to the agency that are long overdue.

This agency is all about mission failure. It can no longer be relied upon to carry forward the principles of the VOA Charter with any measure of effectiveness.

We remind readers that back in her days as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton rightly labeled this agency as defunct: the negative characteristic which the agency has excelled in. Ironically, its inability to function effectively may have contributed to Secretary Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential aspirations. It is no secret that Vladimir Putin has a visceral dislike of Secretary Clinton. Amid all the chatter surrounding the election, there was a great cacophony of disinformation and misinformation, some of it generated by the Russians but also by many other actors, casting both Clinton and Donald Trump in highly negative terms. Countering foreign disinformation is part of what the agency is supposed to do. It failed miserably. Add to that the rather public display of contempt for the incoming administration by Federal career employees in the VOA newsroom as part of its “VOA Follies” presentation during the Christmas holidays.

In so many words, the agency is its own worst enemy...

— http://bbgwatch.com/bbgwatch/bbg-officialdom-burrowing-in/

Fierce Pentagon Denials of Any Cooperation in Syria Amidst Trump Admin Spokesman Sean Spicer Saying Commander in Chief Trump is Open to Working with Russia Against ISIS

An example of the ongoing clash between the new Administration's stated promise from its leader to seek cooperation with the Russians against ISIS and a Washington Establishment that finds such moves anathema came on Monday. During a press conference White House spokesman Sean Spicer denied that Trump would interfere in any way shape or form with allegedly ongoing investigations into contacts his advisers had with either Russian diplomats or businessmen prior to or during or after the 2016 campaign.

On Monday January 24 at 1:58 a.m. Eastern time VOA posted an article to its US Politics section, "White House: Trump Would Not Stop Investigation into Russian Contacts". However VOA being a day behind the news as usual cited a Wall Street Journal story about National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn's phone calls to Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kisylak, while not updating the article to mention fresh reports contradicting the WSJ's sources line that Flynn was still under investigation for the calls. Despite the arrival of two Trump campaign representatives to the Wilber J. Cohen Building in the last few days, the usual anti-Trump and Trump as Kremlin candidate bias toward the Establishment's Rooskies stabbed Hillary and us in the back myth persists in VOA 'reports', just couched in less obviously anti-Trump language. VOA turned to Malcolm Nance for a quote on Spicer's dismissal of anything improper about Flynn's (FBI/NSA vetted) contacts with the Russian Embassy, without mentioning that Nance is the author of a book titled The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and Wikileaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election. A book whose very title implies that Russia may have had such a capability, when there's zero evidence of any Russian hacking of actual votes.

Will those like Nance who are bitter partisans of the #BlameRussia for Hillary's humiliating defeat theory, or the WSJ reporters Shane Harris, Carol E. Lee and Devlin Barrett apologize to General Flynn or retract their story spreading innuendo of him being under investigation as a Russian agent of some sort? Don't hold your breath.

As for VOA, the members of team Trump being briefed about what VOA's doing aren't supposed to be that hands on, or having any input on the entity's reporting at all:

At the editorial level, there’s been caution against posting stories that don’t have a response from the Trump administration, according to a senior VOA staffer. “I think there’s going to be more of a focus on making sure that we’re balanced,” the staffer said.

Bennett said she met on Monday with Trump’s representatives, Schuck and Ciepielowski, who she said will not be involved in news decisions.

”I met with them, we gave them a briefing. We’re going to be showing them around,” she said. “If people are concerned, a lot of people have been through transitions before and this is standard procedure. We gave them the briefing book.”

When asked if she had any concerns about their prior jobs, she said, “They are who they are. They are filling a function that is exactly the same as it would be in any administration.”

And Bennett, who is also a political appointee who could be replaced, said Voice of America is not changing course under the new administration. “We are trying to do the best journalism we can, and follow the highest journalistic standards is the only way we’re going to operate,” she said.

— http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/donald-trump-voice-america-234078

To be fair VOA cannot be faulted too much for acting as an echo chamber for the general innuendo, lies, and hysterical headlines about Trump-Russia! 'we finally nailed the Siberian candidate this time' in tone, when the stories themselves always have to be walked back or quickly fall apart under examination. Remember the Trump organization-Alfa Bank Internet traffic connection that turned out to be spam emails? Or the quasi-memory holed due to legacy media embarrassment over its totally unsubstantiated nature pissgate dossier produced by a super reliable ex-MI6 man Christopher Steele who refused to defend his 'work', but fled into hiding instead? It is for pointing out the desperation to 'prove' the Trump as Putin's puppet conspiracy theory promoted by Hillary Clinton and much of the ex-spook Establishment that actual journalists like Glenn Greenwald are hated by many. When was the last time VOA inserted a quote from Glenn Greenwald into a story to provide balance to the likes of the Malcom Nances?

Dear WaPost (and VOA/RFERL): Many Americans Agree with President Trump that Merkel Did Terrible Damage to Her Country By Admitting Millions of Unvetted Muslim Refugees

Using methods reminiscent of Soviet-era propaganda, such sites offer a vision of a world where no Russian soldier set foot in Ukraine, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a Muslim-hugging menace and the United States is behind Europe’s refugee crisis.

— https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/as-cold-war-turns-to-information-war-a-new-fake-news-police/2017/01/18/9bf49ff6-d80e-11e6-a0e6-d502d6751bc8_story.html?postshare=9721485128534012&tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.c26bb3222196

Look Homeward VOA/RFERL, There's a Whole Gun Owning, Redneck 'Isolationist' and 'Deplorable' Country You Refuse to Show to the World Beyond the Beltway and NYC

More fundamentally, have VOA or RFERL bothered since the election to talk to any one of Trump's nearly 63 million voters? One could be forgiven, if you lived in Africa or Southeast Asia and listened to VOA via the Internet or short wave, for wondering how Trump managed to get elected at all. And of course, if you live in a post-Soviet bloc country, you will never hear from VOA or RFERL that Trump's promise to 'get along with Putin' if at all possible drew repeated applause from thousands of Americans.

If you pretend that peace with 'Putin's Russia' or more broadly Trump's alleged 'isolationism' isn't popular with tens of thousands who came to hear him speak from 2015-16, then perhaps such distressing thoughts for many foreigners say in Ukraine will go away. If like RFE/RL Prague-based commentator Brian Whitmore you denounce nationalist parties like Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) or the National Front (FN) as playthings of Putin for their Russia stance, then you never have to listen to their actual grievances or explain why anyone would voter against open borders defending/EU empress Angela Merkel.

At any rate, even if the career bureaucrats and lazy scribblers at VOA wait out Trump campaign New Hampshire state director Matthew Ciepielowski and Wisconsin communications director Matthew Schuck as the latest 'Christmas help', while the 4th branch of government does its thing, major contradictions loom in the near future. When the Pentagon gets dragged kicking and screaming through orders of its Commander in Chief into at least indirect cooperation with Russia against ISIS this year (even if providing targeting data to the NATO member Turks which gets used by the Russian Air Force is disavowed as 'rubbish') things are inevitably getting awkward for the anti-Trump and ColdWar2 waging fanatics of American taxpayer funded media. As the Russia Analyst has documented, neocon fanatics on the European Union (EU)'s payroll like Jakub Kalensky are attacking Trump as a Russian agent on Twitter almost every day, while smearing new media hosts as Kremlin mouthpieces. Soon enough someone from team Trump is going to notice and push back, reminding Mr. Kalensky he may abuse the French and German taxpayers with his hackery but he won't be getting a dime of American taxpayer money or invites to State Department events.

In conclusion, the choice the employees of VOA and RFERL make in the weeks and months to come -- whether to do their job honestly as journalists or to use taxpayer funds to widen their failing information war abroad with one against Trump and the deplorables at home -- will have consequences. Perhaps even for the viability of any U.S. government funded broadcasting for years or decades to come. If nothing else, Trump is the catalyst forcing an Establishment desperately defending a failing Atlanticist/globalist status quo to face reality.