The White House ripped into
Voice of America (VOA), a federally funded news service, on Friday, claiming it
used taxpayer money to further Chinese propaganda surrounding the coronavirus.
"Voice of America is a global news network funded by American
taxpayers," a White House statement read. "It spends
about $200 million each year on its mission to 'tell America’s story' and
'present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively' to
people around the globe. Today, however, VOA too often speaks for America’s
adversaries -- not its citizens."
The unsigned statement -- titled "Amid a Pandemic, Voice of America
Spends Your Money to Promote Foreign Propaganda" -- specifically took
issue with a tweet featuring video of China celebrating the end of Wuhan's
coronavirus lockdown. It also claimed that VOA called China's response a
"model" that much of the world copied.
WHO ARE THE MAIN PLAYERS IN CHINA'S CORONAVIRUS
PROPAGANDA WAR WITH THE US?
White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino called out that tweet on
"Even worse," the White House release
read, "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."
China previously said it would kick out VOA, along with other U.S.
outlets. Beijing claimed it was retaliation for the Trump administration
limiting the number of Chinese citizens from five state-run news organizations
operating in the U.S.
NBC FACES MASS BACKLASH AFTER
TOUTING CHINA'S CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS TO CONTRAST WITH US
VOA did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment. However,
its director, Amanda Bennett, reportedly said she didn't know what prompted the
“I’m afraid I can’t tell you what prompted it,” Bennet told The Washington Post. “I don’t actually know. It just
came out of the blue.” She also defended the outlet, saying “we have never
promoted propaganda for anyone."
“We cover stories from all different sides. That’s part of the reason we
are so trusted by people around the world."
The White House's accusation came as it criticized media outlets for not
taking the virus seriously.
“While the media and Democrats refused to seriously acknowledge this virus
in January and February, President Trump took bold action to protect
Americans and unleash the full power of the federal government to curb the
spread of the virus, expand testing capacities, and expedite vaccine
development when we had no true idea the level of transmission or asymptomatic
spread," White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told Fox News.
MSNBC ANCHOR CONFRONTS RUBIO ON
COMMENT ABOUT JOURNALISTS FINDING 'GLEE' IN SPIKING US CORONAVIRUS CASES
NBC, in particular, has faced criticism for the way it covered China's
response to the pandemic. NBC News faced a wave of accusations that it was
doing the Chinese government's bidding by tweeting on Tuesday
that it had not reported coronavirus deaths that day while the U.S. saw
more than 1,000 overnight.
"U.S. reports 1,264 coronavirus deaths in over 24 hours. Meanwhile in
China, where the pandemic broke out, not a single new coronavirus death was
reported," the tweet read.
The controversy came after a tense exchange in which MSNBC anchor
Stephanie Ruhle pressed Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on his criticism of
journalists using China's numbers.
"Some in our media can’t contain their glee & delight in
reporting that the U.S. has more #CoronaVirus cases than #China," Rubio tweeted last
week. "Beyond being grotesque, its bad journalism We have NO IDEA how
many cases China really has but without any doubt its [sic] significantly more
than why they admit to." The tweet received plenty of backlash but
Rubio stood by his statement during his MSNBC interview.
Ruhle seemed incredulous when she asked Rubio about this tweet. “I need to
ask you this, because I’m a journalist. We’re not just some personalities. You
called out journalism. And I need to understand why on earth you did
this," she said.
Rubio previously tweeted out a series of posts that showed media
figures mocking the administration and America's interest in being
"Number 1." He also indicated to Ruhle that journalists were
threatening U.S. national security by repeating Chinese "propaganda."
NBC previously faced backlash for an article suggesting that China was
emerging as a "global leader" during the pandemic. The
article, titled "As U.S. struggles to stem coronavirus, China asserts
itself as global leader," starts by highlighting Chinese aid to
Fox News' David Spunt and
Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.