US’ global media agency launches probe into ‘election interference’ after VOA runs Biden campaign ad targeting Muslims
31 Jul, 2020 06:17
The head of the US agency for Global Media(USAGM) has announced an investigation into state-funded Voice of America (VOA) for possible election meddling, after its service in Urdu promoted a clip of Joe Biden courting Muslim votes.
The probe, announced by the newly-appointed agency CEO Michael Pack on Thursday, aims to determine whether federal employees of the broadcaster, funded exclusively through taxpayer money, “transgressed the VOA Charter, VOA’s Best Practices Guide, VOA’s Journalistic Code,” and whether they committed US election interference and a federal offence by airing a video “that can only be described as an apparent election advertisement for [the] presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.”
The clip, which was branded with a VOA logo, shows Biden addressing the Million Muslim Votes Summit earlier this month and citing a hadith (saying of Islam’s Prohet Mohammed), while making a series of election pledges such as the ending of travel restrictions to countries with substantial Muslim populations, labeled by US President Donald Trump’s detractors as a “Muslim ban.”
“Your voice is your vote. Muslim American voices matter. I’ll be a president who seeks out and incorporates the ideas and concerns of Muslim Americans on everyday issues that matter most to our communities,” Biden says in the clip.
The ad, which also features the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, sees Biden’s promise of “having Muslim American voices as part of my administration.”
The video urges American Muslims to go out and vote, calling the effort “the largest Muslim voter mobliziation in America.”
The clip was shared on the VOA’s Urdu website as well as across its social media, before it was scrapped.
In his statement, Pack said that the agency is seeking to find those behind “this significant content and editorial breakdown.”
USAGM staff members who attempt to influence American elections will be held accountable
Ever since Pack was confirmed by the Senate in early June to lead the agency, mainstream media and Democrats have been sounding alarms over the VOA, initially set up in 1942 as a propaganda arm of the US government, potentially becoming an outlet for the wrong kind of propaganda – that is, a mouthpiece for the Trump campaign. However, that does not seem to be the case, at least, for now.