MSNBC Freaks Over Alleged 'Propaganda' Takeover of Voices of America By Trump

June 22nd, 2020 5:00 PM

There's a lot of irony to Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC getting worked up over a supposed "propaganda" takeover by the Trump administration. The cable host fretted over the ongoing remake of Voices Of America, a U.S government owned and operated radio network that operates both domestically and internationally. After describing VOA as an “independent” media organization, Mitchell made a dubious claim that Trump was attempting to take over the organization for his own political benefit. 

 

 

To back up her position, she brought over former Obama administration employee Richard Stengel, who ironically wrote a book recently about media misinformation. After Mitchell was done raving about the VOA and it’s supposed independence and how the man Trump picked to head it up, Michael Pack, was more or less ripping it down, she let Richard get in a few words. Unsurprisingly, they came to the same conclusion:

The appointment of Michael Pack and approval of Michael Pack is, he's kind of a propagandist. Everybody who's been head of VOA and the Broadcaster Board of Governors, now what’s known as the U.S Agency for Global Media have been fair-minded and not politically minded. To have somebody who wants to possibly create Trump TV on an international stage is a really dreadful idea. 

Now, suggesting without evidence that Pack is a propagandist and that he and Trump want to create “Trump TV” is ridiculous enough. But Stengel could not stop with just those accusations, insisting further that Trump will use VOA to sway the election in his favor: 

But if this is  the kind of example of international TV, and a kind of tv that he uses to broadcast within the U.S for the election in 2020, that would be an extraordinary violation of its mission and something Congress should really get heated about. In fact, Congress, you know, support for these agencies, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, now International Broadcasters, has always been bipartisan. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a Republican, was a great champion of it. So we need to protect these. These are crown jewels of international broadcasting for America.

These accusations are incredibly disturbing at face value, but they are especially disquieting when you consider that they come from a not so unbiased member of the media, and a member of the Obama administration who did not have such a great relationship with members of the media. 

Both Mitchell and Stengel stayed quiet and have remained quiet on Obama’s use of the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute journalists, as he indeed used the law to prosecute more journalists than all previous administrations combined. Mitchell is also no unbiased journalist herself, having nothing but praise for Obama and yet repeatedly attacking Trump every day on her show since he became President in 2016. 

Mitchell ended this part of her segment with one final personal dig at Pack, bringing up an infamous former member of the Trump administration: 

And all we have to say is that Steve Bannon, the mentor of Michael Pack. 

A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more. 

MSNBC’s

Andrea Mitchell Reports

6-22-20

12:41:23 PM

ANDREA MITCHELL: President Trump's choice to head a major government media operation, the U.S. Agency for global media, launched a wholesale trashing of the venerable divisions of that organization. Michael Pack, firing dozens of leaders from the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East network and others all run by the U.S. Government. The Voice of America alone delivers television and radio programming to more than 236 million people across the world. Pack's first step was to force out Amanda Bennett, winner of two Pulitzers prizes and the top editor of VOA. Then within 48 hours he fired all the network heads and their advisory boards. Is this part of President Trump's plan to gain control over an independent and federally funded organization? Joining me now is Richard Stengel,  Undersecretary of State during the Obama administration. His book, Information Wars- How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About it comes out tomorrow in paperback. Congratulations on that Rick, and thanks for joining us. A lot of us have been really concerned about all the firings. Not just taking out the top leaders of VOA, bad as that was. It was a pretty bad warning sign, but going to advisory boards that include people like Ambassador Ryan Crocker. All of these independent,non-partisan people, and the experts who run these different, these different radio programs, language experts, all of these people who are so experienced as journalists. What do you make of it? 

RICHARD STENGEL: Yeah. It's -- it's a bit of a tragedy, Andrea. The U.S. International broadcasting is vast. It has a 750 million dollar budget, not trivial, even in the federal government. It grew out of the Cold War where we were trying to reach people around the world, and talk about freedom with independent press, and that's basically what it has been. There's about 3,500 employees. They devoutly believe in their mission which is to bring objective, fair-minded news to people around the world. The appointment of Michael Pack and approval of Michael Pack is, he's kind of a propagandist. Everybody who's been head of VOA and the Broadcaster Board of Governors, now what’s known as the U.S Agency for Global Media have been fair-minded and not politically minded. To have somebody who wants to possibly create Trump TV on an international stage is a really dreadful idea

MITCHELL: And this comes at a time when the U.S. -- The whole profile of the United States has been so severely damped. Take a look at the Bolton book. Whatever you think of John Bolton, just the description of the way we are viewed, the way alliances have been damaged, and these independent journalists, I've seen them for years, traveled with them overseas. They are remarkable. The language experts involved, The legacies involved. This goes all the way back to our fight against the Nazis, when you look at the origins of these agencies.  

STENGEL: Yes. I mean, they do something wonderful for America. They're trusted by people around the world to bring fair-minded news. News that, you know -- these services actually criticize America at the same time and they become a lesson for broadcasters and other people. Like, wow, you could have a broadcaster that criticizes your own government? People didn't realize that. It's a really powerful exemplar of the U.S message, and what’s so dangerous here is that the legislation that created it, was designed to make sure the broadcasting goes abroad. But if this is  the kind of example of international TV, and a kind of tv that he uses to broadcast within the U.S for the election in 2020, that would be an extraordinary violation of its mission and something Congress should really get heated about. In fact, Congress, you know, support for these agencies, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, now International Broadcasters, has always been bipartisan. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a Republican, was a great champion of it. So we need to protect these. These are crown jewels of international broadcasting for America.

MITCHELL: And all we have to say is that Steve Bannon, the mentor of Michael Pack.