Washington watchdog Judicial Watch has issued an irony alert for a government agency that fired journalists for a report on left-wing billionaire George Soros then issued a statement supporting “press freedom.”
WND reported in March eight reporters and editors at U.S. tax-funded TV and Radio Marti, which broadcasts in Spanish to communist Cuba, were fired after a report aired portraying Soros in an unflattering light.
At the time, Judicial Watch explained the firings came at the request of scandal-plagued Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
Menendez, who has been accused of hiring prostitutes and misusing funds for personal benefit, demanded an investigation that resulted in the dismissals, Judicial Watch said.
Judicial Watch said that at Menendez’s request, Obama appointee John Lansing of the U.S. Agency for Global Media used “Stalinist techniques to retaliate against the journalists and producers involved in the Spanish-language segment,” which aired last May.
Now, Judicial Watch says, “It’s ironic that, just weeks after firing journalists behind a broadcast critical of leftwing billionaire George Soros, the head of the U.S. government’s international media networks is proclaiming his support for ‘press freedom.'”
Lansing’s statement said, among other things, he was reaffirming his “commitment to the fundamental principles of press freedom.”
He assured the world his agency would “continue to report the truth,” although, Judicial Watch said, that activity “recently cost USAGM journalists their jobs.”
He continued: “Despite some very dark moments, we have not been silenced. We will continue to report the truth. We will continue to find new ways to get independent reporting and programming to global audiences who rely on it. And we will continue to carry through our mission to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. Today, and every day, I am proud to be part of this organization, and call these brave men and women colleagues, as we stand together for press freedom.”
Lansing, however, Judicial Watch said, “conveniently omits” details about the firings.
“The Spanish-language segment aired in May 2018 on Television Martí and was available for months online” until Menendez noticed it, the report said.
The firings came after Menendez demanded a review of “patterns of unethical, unprofessional, biased, or sub-standard journalism.”
Television Martí is one of five USAGM multimedia networks. The others are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting.
Judicial Watch said they receive some $685 million a year from American taxpayers and reach 345 million people worldwide in 59 languages.
Judicial Watch said: “The Soros broadcast focused on his efforts to cripple sovereign governments in Latin America. Judicial Watch was cited as a source because it investigated State Department funding of Soros groups in Colombia and published a report on Soros’ initiatives to advance a radical globalist agenda in Guatemala.
“Judicial Watch also released a special report documenting the financial and staffing nexus between Soros’ Open Society Foundations and the U.S. government. In that document, Judicial Watch connects the dots between U.S.-funded entities and OSF affiliates to further the Hungarian-born philanthropist’s agenda seeking to destabilize legitimate governments, erase national borders, target conservative politicians, finance civil unrest, subvert institutions of higher education, and orchestrate refugee crises for political gain,” the watchdog said.
Judicial Watch said Lansing apparently was being protected by Menendez and may have wanted to do what the senator insisted.
The report on Soros said the billionaire had “flexible” morals.
Judicial Watch mentioned Menendez’s own “sordid history.”
He was accused of bribery and corruption stemming from his relationship “with a crooked south Florida eye doctor that lavished him with cash, gifts and trips.”
The eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, eventually was convicted of stealing $73 million from Medicare and sentenced to 17 years in jail.
While the senator was accused of bribery and corruption in that case, jurors were unable to reach a verdict and he got a mistrial.
But his colleagues on the Senate Ethics Committee concluded he not only violated Senate rules but also federal law and handed him a public letter of admonition.
“As far back as 2007, Menendez was investigated by a federal grand jury for illegally steering lobbying business to his former chief of staff Kay LiCausi, with whom he was also romantically linked. In just a few years, her firm reported $1.3 million in business with nearly $300,000 coming from a New Jersey medical center that was later awarded government funding thanks to a push from her former boss and lover. In 2010, Menendez and his colleague in corruption, New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg, allocated $8 million for a public walkway and park space adjacent to upscale, waterfront condos built by a developer whose executives donated generously to their political campaigns,” Judicial Watch said.