USAGM Watch Commentary
In his latest op-ed in The Hill, former Voice of America (VOA) acting associate director Ted Lipien, who also served briefly in 2020-2021 as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) president, quotes his former VOA Polish Service colleague, Jewish-American writer Henryk Grynberg: “the president of a leading American university cannot apologize for her lack of basic human values” toward Jews. Grynberg, a much-admired writer, poet, and chronicler of Jewish history in Poland, who is also a child survivor of the Holocaust, said that the real culprit is “the culture that brought her up so high.” That culture must purge itself of antisemitism before apologies can be made, Grynberg added.
Lipien also sees Walter Duranty-style journalism at the Voice of America:
As journalists, he and I are both sorry that our former employer, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, also does not want to refer to Hamas’ murderers and war criminals as “terrorists,” preferring instead to call them “fighters” so as to remain “neutral.” But can those who murder defenseless women and children — people who cannot fight back — be called “fighters?” Doesn’t the word “fighter” inherently imply an actual fight between combatants, as opposed to the systematic rape and massacre of civilians?Ted Lipien, “Sometimes editorial ‘neutrality’ means propagandizing for totalitarians,” The Hill, December 29, 2023.
“Voice of America journalists who objected to pro-Hamas censorship by their leadership, editors, and some senior reporters could not voice their protests internally, for fear of ruining their careers,” Lipien wrote, calling it “a return to McCarthyism, this time from the far left.”
Lipien pointed out that the chief apologist for Stalin, the New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty, and many of his fellow traveler colleagues similarly tried to intimidate other journalists who reported the truth about Soviet and other communist atrocities, which Duranty and his friends tried to cover up. They falsely accused Welsh journalist Gareth Jones of lying about the deaths of millions of people in Ukraine from communist-engineered famine.
Unless journalists and academics regain their moral compass, there will be new and more horrific incidents of genocide against Jews than even those committed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. The consequences of the media protecting Hamas terrorists with words can indeed be deadly.
Sometimes, true neutrality requires using words with negative connotations to describe reality accurately. Anything softer would be misleading.Ted Lipien, “Sometimes editorial ‘neutrality’ means propagandizing for totalitarians,” The Hill, December 29, 2023.