The United States government created Voice of America (VOA) during World War II to counter Nazi propaganda. It broadcast thousands of programs in dozens of languages. After the war, VOA concentrated its attention on reaching audiences behind the Iron Curtain. VOA inspired hope of a better life for millions of people living under the yoke of communist tyranny. Julian Pilon, Senior Fellow at The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), an émigré from communist Romania, “recall[s] my parents, at great risk, listening to America’s (forbidden) message on shortwave radio.” In “The Voice of Which America?” published by the Jewish News Syndicate, Dr. Pilon wonders if VOA has betrayed its mission and become an anti-American propaganda arm of the radical left.
VOA’s charter, established by an act of Congress, requires the organization in its programming to “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news” and to “present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.” Dr. Pilon questions whether VOA has lived up to that standard by examining its reporting on Israel, China, and Iran. In recent years, mainstream media have also reported evidence of corruption at the highest levels of VOA’s management.
Dr. Pilon praises the appointment by President Trump of documentary film maker Michael Pack to head VOA. After his Senate confirmation in June 2020, he immediately “launched a comprehensive investigation of. . . longstanding ‘systemic, severe, and fundamental security failures” at VOA. Although Mr. Pack was appointed for a three-year term, Joe Biden has made clear that once in office he intends to replace Pack with someone of a different bent.