Voice of America Reporter in NPR Story Blocked Watchdog Website Journalists in 2017
USAGM Watch Commentary
National Public Radio (NPR) reported on October 4, 2020 that two political appointees at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) compiled and presented to acting Voice of America (VOA) director Elez Biberaj “an extensive report deemed ‘confidential’ on VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman, claiming that in his reporting and tweets that Herman had been unfair to Trump and had broken the broadcaster’s standards and social media policies. “
There has been no response yet from Elez Biberaj.
BBG – USAGM Watch reported that in 2017 Steve Herman had imposed his own a ban on our website and our reporters who followed his Twitter account after BBG – USAGM Watch criticized him for tweeting unconfirmed news claims, some of which turned out to be false. BBG – USAGM Watch urged him to obey the two-source rule and to follow the VOA Charter which says that VOA News must be accurate, balanced and comprehensive. Herman was forced to lift the ban after BBG – USAGM Watch complained to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), as the U.S. Agency for Global Media which oversees VOA was then called, that such an action initiated by a U.S. federal government employee amounted to interference with a free media.
The VOA Public Relation Office responded to BBG – USAGM Watch complaint in an e-mail on December 27, 2017:
VOICE OF AMERICA PUBLIC RELATIONS: VOA was not aware that anyone had been blocked from any personal social media accounts. After you brought the issue to VOA management’s attention, it was discussed with the reporter who has since lifted the blocks from his account.
The decision to force Steve Herman to unblock American journalists was made by the previous agency management appointed during the Obama administration. The VOA director at that time was Amanda Bennett who resigned in June just before Michael Pack took over as USAGM CEO. Today Bennett tweeted praise for Steve Herman.