The White House issued a statement on Thursday blasting a publicly funded media outlet for echoing what it described as Chinese propaganda.
The Voice of America (VOA) was slammed by the White House for calling the Wuhan, China, lockdown a “model… for countries battling the coronavirus around the world” and stating that China is set to end the lockdown “after 11 weeks.” VOA spends about $200 million a year to “tell America’s story” and “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively” to people around the globe, according to the White House’s description of the outlet.
In a statement, the White House characterized the reporting as Chinese propaganda and said that China’s Secrecy from the Communist Party “allowed the deadly virus to spread across the world.”
“VOA too often speaks for America’s adversaries—not its citizens… Journalists should report the facts, but VOA has instead amplified Beijing’s propaganda. This week, VOA called China’s Wuhan lockdown a successful “model” copied by much of the world—and then tweeted out video of the Communist government’s celebratory light show marking the quarantine’s alleged end,” the White House wrote in the statement.
The video in question shows a video posted on Twitter shows the light show:
▶️ A light show against the night sky marked the end of a months' long lockdown in Wuhan, China, early Wednesday.
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) April 7, 2020
“Even worse, while much of the U.S. media takes its lead from China, VOA went one step further: It created graphics with Communist government statistics to compare China’s Coronavirus death toll to America’s. As intelligence experts point out, there is simply no way to verify the accuracy of China’s numbers,” the statement added.
In response, but without acknowledging the White House statement, VOA director Amanda Bennett said the outlet has published several pieces that have been critical of China’s handling of the coronavirus, which has infected at least 1.9 million people across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins latest research model.
“Unlike China, VOA has stuck to verifiable facts, including publishing numerous articles in Mandarin, English and other languages that outed China’s initial secrecy keeping information of the initial outbreak from the world,” Bennett said in the statement. “VOA has thoroughly debunked much of the information coming from the Chinese government and government-controlled media.”
The White House added that the Voice of America’s reporting on the coronavirus isn’t the first time the outlet has pushed what it described as state-controlled propaganda.
“Last year, VOA helped highlight the Twitter feed of Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif while he was issuing threats against the U.S. and sharing Russian anti-U.S. propaganda videos,” the White House statement added. “Today, VOA is promoting propaganda instead—and your tax dollars are paying for it.”
The White House also acknowledged First Lady Melania Trump’s efforts to highlight the Trump administration’s efforts to combat the damage caused by the coronavirus.
“The President and I appreciate all that you are doing to keep the people of our country healthy and safe,” Mrs. Trump said. “In the most difficult of times, the United States never fails to rise to the occasion with both unity and strength.”
She added: “It is because of you, that the people of America are receiving the care and treatment they need.”