Of course, just as COVID and other respiratory viruses are surging in L.A. (and California, and much of the rest of the country), we have our first in-studio guest on The BradCast since the pandemic. Oh, well. Wish us luck! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
We're joined today by the great STEVE HERMAN of Voice of America who spent some 26 years covering various regions in Asia and serving as VOA correspondent and Bureau Chief in India, Korea, Thailand. In 2016, he returned stateside to serve as VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, for a brief stint, before becoming the eight decade-old, U.S. funded media outlet's White House Bureau Chief. After serving 4 totally easy-peasy years at the White House during the Trump Administration and several months during Biden's, Herman is now on the road as VOA's Chief National Correspondent covering the 2024 campaign. (I know, I know...we're not even done with 2022 around here!)
In a broad, in-studio conversation today --- including questions from listener callers --- we cover, among many other things...
- Herman's initial visit to the Fukushima nuclear plant just after the 2011 meltdown disaster...without any sort of physical protection! (That was when he first appeared as a guest on our program.)
- How VOA stands virtually alone as a state-funded news outlet given its special charter, a "firewall" enshrined by federal statute that prevents the government from meddling in its coverage. "The White House, or even the head of our parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, cannot tell me or my editors what we have to report or cannot report. They cannot be involved editorially," says Herman.
- How and why that makes VOA different from state-funded propaganda outlets in Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere. "I like to say VOA is probably the only news organization in the world that is mandated by law to be fair and effective," Herman explains. "In that charter it says we must reflect the different views of what's going on in the United States."
- "Facts are facts," he tells me, regarding so much mis- and disinformation by both the Right and Left. "What they are reporting at RT [Russia Today] and Sputnik is not factual, especially about the war in Ukraine. ... It's a situation that we see from Chinese state media and Iranian state media. And this goes back all the way to why VOA was created after the start of World War II, because you had Nazi Germany on the airwaves, uncontested to a great degree, spitting out anti-American and pro-Nazi propaganda. What VOA was set up to do was to tell the audiences, initially in German and also in Japanese, what's going on with the war, whether it's good or bad."
- The efforts by the Trump Administration, while Herman served as VOA's WH Bureau Chief, to affect the agency's news coverage and attempts to pressure Herman himself. "When these things have happened over the decades in various administrations, it also demonstrates that VOA is not a propaganda service," he argues. "If it were a propaganda service, we would not be getting complaints from within the United States government on some of the stories we've been doing."
- - Herman's thoughts on the insane response by Donald Trump over the weekend to Matt Taibbi's "Twitter Files" thread detailing internal discussion/debate among Twitter executives in the run-up to the 2020 election when deciding whether or not to suppress questionably sourced reporting on Hunter Biden's laptop.
- All of that and much more, including praise for sushi in Los Angeles from a guy who worked for decades in Asia!
Also covered today, a few news headlines at the top of the show...
- Flu, COVID and other respiratory illness is "off the charts" in California, Los Angeles County and elsewhere around the country.
- Russia's latest missile assault on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and the nearly 600 documented cases of apparent war crimes by the aggressor nation since Putin's invasion in February.
- The apparent coordinated domestic terror attacks on electric substations in Moore County, North Carolina that has knocked out power and water to tens of thousands of residents.
- Early voting is over and Election Day now awaits on Tuesday in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed sociopathic liar Hershel Walker.
- The weekend's aforementioned insane (and largely pointless) Twitter thread by Matt Taibbi, how it has been misreported by MAGA Republicans including Donald Trump, who dishonestly represented the reporting in order to call for "termination" of the U.S. Constitution (seriously!) in its wake...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)