Voice of America reported on Sunday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blacklisted media requests from the US-funded independent outlet after attacks from President Donald Trump, Politico reports.
Michawn Rich, a top communications official at the CDC, said in an email that the agency does not accept media requests from VOA.
“NOTE: as a rule, do not send up requests for Greta Van Sustern [sic] or anyone affiliated with Voice of America,” the email said, referring to former the former Fox News and MSNBC anchor who now works at VOA.
Rich, an Agriculture Department spokesman, was moved to the CDC earlier this year to assist with communications related to the coronavirus.
Move came after Trump attack:
The email linked to a story published in the White House daily newsletter accusing VOA of promoting foreign propaganda.
Trump has accused VOA of parroting Chinese propaganda about the virus, just as he has done with the World Health Organization and other media outlets.
“Even worse, while much of the U.S. media takes its lead from China, VOA went one step further: It created graphics with Communist government statistics to compare China’s Coronavirus death toll to America’s,” said an unsigned White House statement. “As intelligence experts point out, there is simply no way to verify the accuracy of China’s numbers.”
“If you heard what’s coming out of the Voice of America, it’s disgusting.… things they say are disgusting toward our country,” Trump said in April.
“The thing that's stunning to me is that it's VOA and I'm specifically named and nobody at the CDC, or the White House, or anyplace else has ever said that my reporting on the coronavirus or anything else has been unfair or inaccurate,” Van Susteren told VOA, adding that it was “absurd to blackball a person.”
“VOA, a federally-funded independent news organization, strongly rejects the accusations and calls on the CDC to immediately withdraw the instructions,” VOA Director Amanda Bennett said in a statement. “For a federal agency’s public affairs office to categorically deny in advance interview requests from VOA journalists, including our colleague Greta Van Susteren, based on a White House opinion statement referring to an Associated Press story about COVID-19 shared by the VOA newsroom as ‘propaganda,’ is even more troubling.”