Inferior news for inferior people

The great propaganda machine called VOA


Inferior news for inferior people
by tinoush

It is forbidden by the laws of the United States for Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Farda to broadcast directly to American citizens. When I point this out to many people, their knee-jerk reaction is to say “but I can get it on my satellite/internet!” So, what!? Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is also accessible through the same sources. So are the Egyptian, Cuban, Russian, Chinese, etc. state-run stations. Are all these state-run stations sanctioned to broadcast in US? The fact is that jamming radio and TV signals is not easy, and it will also make selling the democracy and free speech claims harder if the government was to engage in suppression of information. As it stands, the American citizens are not exposed to VOA propaganda as much as they would be if the broadcasts were direct.

The history of propaganda in the US is as old as the country itself. After all, what else can justify eradication of millions of Native Americans on the grounds that they’re savages or enslavement of millions of others because their color is a sign of their inferiority? However, for the moment, we can look at post-WWII history and all the relevant US laws.

VOA is controlled by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which also runs Radio and TV Mari (targeting Cuba), Radio Sawa and AlHurra TV (in Arabic), Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (targeting eastern Europe), and Radio Free Asia. All these stations can be accessed via the internet. Radio Farda is actually a joint project of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty broadcast from Prague, Czech Republic. The secretary of state is a member of the BBG, hence reiterating the role of the BBG as a government agency. In 1999, BBG was made an independent federal agency in charge of non-military broadcasting by the US government.

BBG and the stations it governs are only a few strands in a much larger web of propaganda organizations used by US government. United States Information Agency (USIA) is a central component of this web of propaganda. USIA’s motto is “telling America’s story to the world.” In reality, its job is SELLING CORPORATE AMERICA’S INTRESTS TO THE WORLD. For a short primer into how all these organizations were created and function you can read Nancy Snow’s “Propaganda, Inc. Selling America’s Culture to the World.”

The oldest law that bans targeting of American citizens by VOA is the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. Section 501 of this law explicitly states that “information produced by Voice of America for audiences outside of United States shall not be disseminated within the United States.” This act is a double edged sword. While it protects the American citizens against US government propaganda, it also protects the US government from scrutiny by the very same citizens whose taxes pay for VOA. According to a 1998 ruling by the US Court of Appeals, VOA is exempt from releasing information to the public in response to requests made per Freedom of Information Act.

The Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1972 added a ban on dissemination within United States of any “information about the United States, its people, and its policies which are prepared for abroad.” The Zorinsky Amendment also added a new prohibition that “no funds authorized for United States Information Agency shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States, and no program material prepared by the United States Information Agency shall be distributed within the United States.”

In 1994, USIA started providing internet services for VOA. At least the legislative branch takes exposure of American’s to misinformation serious enough that VOA was forced to use computer servers from outside of US for its internet broadcast. All internet servers that provide broadcast of the BBG propaganda stations are placed outside of US.

And if these laws are not enough, we can look at the case of Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Kenneth Tomlinson, who used to work for VOA and is the head of the BBG. He was appointed to run CPB by Bush. Congress created CPB in order to provide Americans with non-commercial broadcasting. CPB provides funding for public networks such as National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting System. The Bush cartel has always known the effective value of propaganda and has been masterful at using it. CPB was the quintessential fly in Bush cartel’s ointment. Under the guise of bringing balance to CPB, Kenneth Tomlinson was appointed as its chairman. For two years, Tomlinson ran CPB in the same manner as BBG, turning it essentially into a propaganda arm of the Bush administration. He was finally forced out after a report by the CPB inspector general found him in violation of federal laws and ethics rules. This indirectly confirms that the rules by which BBG operates are unethical and illegal when applied to domestic broadcasting.

It is clear that at least the legislative branch of the US government considers VOA and all the other stations ran by the BBG (including Radio Farda) to be propaganda and has enacted laws to protect the American people. One has to wonder, why would a democracy need such a elaborate propaganda scheme? A democracy’s strength comes from the fact that the sovereign power is the people. And all the people need in order to exercise their power is the truth. The only thing that a democracy needs to do is to tell the truth domestically and internationally. If the US government wants to tell America’s story to the world, then it only needs to tell the truth. The absolute truth, that’s America’s story and it’s the most effective way of combating dictatorships abroad, unless the aim is something else.

And ultimately, the aim IS something else. I had a conversation with a gentleman who had just come from Iran. I was quiet speechless with his bold declaration that life in Afghanistan is better than life in Iran!!! Remember, this is a comparison between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran. There is far more misery, suppression of basic human rights, and fundamentalism in the former than in the latter. And, of course the main difference is the ‘news’ broadcast into Iran by VOA, the prime source of ‘news’ for this gentleman and millions of Iranians.

Even after I explained to him the propaganda aspects of VOA, he told me that he would still trust it for as a source of news. This, in my opinion, is the ultimate manifestation of a mind rotten to its core by age old imperialism. Many Iranians, outside and specially inside of Iran, would rather run away from the arms of domestic propaganda and embrace foreign propaganda, all the while not exerting the effort to find the real truth. Many Iranians would shy away with disgust at the suggestion of working for the IRIB, while they would eagerly pounce at a chance to become a cogwheel in the great propaganda machine called VOA.

It reminds me of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” In Huxley’s novel, people are genetically engineered to belong to a particular class. The genetic engineering is reinforced by mental conditioning in the form of messages that are repeated over and over. Each class in the various strata of the society has its own propaganda designed to make them happy to be whatever they are. Equivalently, the US government has created one set of propaganda to brainwash its domestic audience, and a different, inferior set to brainwash the grunts outside of its borders. Sadly, a good portion of the grunts are eager to take in their designated dose of propaganda and keep on being grunts. What a brave new world we live in. To quote from Huxley’s original inspiration, Shakespeare:

“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world
That has such people in’t!”



Anchors working for VOA ...

by shah_parast (not verified) on

Couple of them I was told were insurance agents at the shah's time in a small town in Khorasan. I think the names are Baharloo and Kangarloo (sorry if mis-spelled). Probably they were working as CIA agents just keeping busy as insurance salesmen and now they are working for the CIA as anchors on TV. What a life!!!

Shah Parast


VOA is "literate" shaboon Bimokh

by VOA_negah_nakon (not verified) on

Didn't we already know that VOA is a USA government organization created to mislead and mis-inform Iranians? The question is why? My response from only few observations is that VOA although is financed by the US government, but it is organized and run by the Israelies. Their objective is create a pro-israeli class in Iran, at the cost of their familiarity and knowledge about their environment, and the global politics. They think this way, by enlarging this mis-informed group, they can cretae unstability in the iranian government. Generally they do this technique to all governments (friend or foe) because they have bigger "plans" in mind (have you read protocols of ....?). The fact is that most iranians who know the global situation and the sick mind of the israeli government officials laugh at these idiots. VOA probably does not know it is the laughing stock of the iran. In a way, this is the second 1953 coup, where Shabon Bimokh is replaced with a bunch of "literate" shaboons.



The point is lost...

by Susanne Pari (not verified) on

I liked this article; it was informative. The comments, however, concern me. They miss the point entirely. And they reveal an interesting flaw in the thought processes of many Iranians who have settled in the West.

The main thrust of this article should provoke a concerned response about how American taxpayers' money is being spent, not whether one country's propaganda machine works better than another.

In a democratic society, propaganda should be anathema. In a democratic capitalist society, propaganda should only come from commercial entities, and NEVER from a government elected by the people.

As an American, whether of Iranian descent or otherwise, the issue of contention here is the nature of the message our government is disseminating abroad. That there are laws protecting us (the citizens) from such propaganda should not be enough to keep us from investigating it. Indeed, it is our obligation as electors to know what is being said in the name of our country (in OUR name) on foreign soil.

A proper and helpful discussion to follow this article would be one that exchanges information about the nature of VOA's content, how it can be accessed (and thus evaluated), and what our community can do to protest it, if necessary.

I'm sure there are many Americans who have no idea what the VOA is broadcasting. And in this contemporary climate, Americans have become (finally) more cognizant of how very important their nation's image is in the world.

Mohammad Alireza

Are you the Voice of the Warmongers?

by Mohammad Alireza on

Excellent article, and if VoA had any integrity it would have an entire two hour show discussing the issues raised by tinoush.
The real test will come when Cheney starts dropping bombs on Iran. It will be extremely interesting to see how the “innocent” and “unbiased” Iranian hosts on Voice of America react, and if they will have gloves on in order to cover the blood that will be on their hands.
If you are working for the Voice of America you either need to resign or tell the truth about the real reasons for why Cheney and the neo-cons want to destroy Iran. Deluding yourself that you are providing “information” and “news” to Iranians only makes you traitors and a tool of the warmongers. Any fool can bash the IRI but it takes something more to reveal the truth behind the plans for destroying Iran, and the VoA is not able to broadcast this truth, and therefore is providing a disservice to the Iranian people.

Mohammad Alireza


Nicely done

by AnonymousX (not verified) on

Thanks for this information.

Propaganda is a double edge sward.

Take the site, it looks like puts out a lot of information from 3rd parties just so it can
manipulate some level of dis-information.

Or consider the constant war drum beat.
I am almost 100% sure US can not afford to go to war with Iran. It is only buying time as it leaves Iraq.

They use sites like this through there 3rd parties to dissemination misinformation.

Are they part of the hall of mirrors that The U.S. Department of Defense defines psychological warfare (PSYWAR) as: "The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior ..." ?


go to hell Uncle Sam, Israeli lackey scum

by Iranian dude (not verified) on

First of all douche-bag, learn to spell "lackey". Second of all, an animal like you who supports the piece-of-garbage U.S. government should be sent to Iran so that Iranian patriots can take care of you like they took care of the Uncle Sam-supported Iraqi invaders in the 1980s. Any animal who supports the U.S. and Israeli governments against Iran deserves the worst. Have a nice day :-)


go to hell you mullah lacky

by An-animus (not verified) on

go to hell you mullah lacky leftist. If the US is so bad, what the f*&* are you and your rotten lefty bastards doing there you parasites!

Jeesh Daram

Did anyone see Khomeini's image on the moon?

by Jeesh Daram on

United States Information Agency in charge of VOA is well aware of the deep penetration of BBC in Iran. At the dawn of the Revolution VOA started broadcasting more heavily into Iran followed by Israel and etc.


The old Soviet broadcasting into Iran (Radio Moscow) was promising the coming of equality to all Iranians, what they really meant was that they were supporting Khomeini and equality meant "equal poverty." The old Soviet style.


Considering all such shortwave radios are pointed at the most remote villages in Iran all the way to big cities it is perhaps much healthier if there are more of such radios to provide a free market place for propaganda. If targeted audience gets various "biased point of views" they might make their own conclusion much better than if there is only BBC and the entire nation tunes into it to hear announcements like the one I quote here:


BBC 1979:

"According to the unconfirmed news from Iran the image of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has been sighted by thousands of Iranians all over the country!" This broadcast was in Persian and by using the word "unconfirmed" they wanted to say we believe in Islam's miracle and Khomeini's power, but give us a 24 hour so that we confirm it for you!


That's where competition is good. In fact China should start its own strong shortwave penetration to Iran. While BBC might someday see the image of Prince Reza in the moon, China will hopefully turn around and deny it, while VOA will invite "experts" to discuss the possibilities and Radio Israel will talk to Prince via satellite to get some feedback about his experience in the moon and Radio Moscow will play the old "Nights of Moscow" melody, jovial in seeing its neighbor in the south being shafted again!


To Homa

by NorCal (not verified) on

"i really wish you would go and actually live in iran and see what does it feel like to be on the other side of the fence."
Aside from the presumptuousness in this statement that the author does not know what it is like on the other side of the fence, it is utterly deficient in logic.
It might be public knowledge as to where the author has lived or is living but I certainly don't know it. It is irrelevant to the argument. For your information, people who live in Iran have argued and written about the very same subject matter, though less so from the legal/historical perspective . What would be your excuse then for dismissing their argument? You are trying to discredit the author rather than addressing the argument.
The rest of your post is also drivel. Waste of time to read and waste of time write. Nothing to do with the argument being presented and you are no better off for writing it. Is the irony lost on you when you say "i do admire your extra time though, must be nice."


What about media literacy?

by Mr. Hot Pants (not verified) on

This is well-written, but there is a problem here--amid the generalizations, there is very little room for human agency here, and no discussion of the ability for people to evaluate news/information critically for themselves. Call it what you will, but I think Iranians and others exposed to the US propaganda media do not necessarily swallow all the crap they are fed, or would necessarily go from one vehicle of propaganda (domestic) to another (Western). What do I know though? I'm just an Iranian homo.


wow you are backand with a

by homa (not verified) on

wow you are backand with a vengance.
or did i miss you recent "stuff"?
anyway, as usual your comments are amuzing. i really wish you would go and actually live in iran and see what does it feel like to be on the other side of the fence.
also as usual you have written a long one, hard to read all of "that", say why not summarize it in a few sentences, like: i don't like anything and i like to express myself?
i do admire your extra time though, must be nice.


Over the Top

by Nazanin Ghasemian on

In your regular fashion, you've overstated the matter. I understand your obligation to the argument that there is propaganda and broadcast thus it is imperative to learn about it and squash it, but not in the case of VOA.
Iranians are intelligent and excercise shrewd judgement when it comes what they see in any media/book/paper, besides Quran.
You've failed to mention the positive aspects of VOA to serve your argument, and its as narrow-minded as who you are accusing.
VOA isn't purely political. They profile Iranian-Americans from time to time and it isn't to engineer a positive view of America v. Iran.
As a personal observation, your tone is very exaggerated and paranoid.

Darius Kadivar

Dear Tinoush ( Its Revolution they Want NOT War)

by Darius Kadivar on

I did not call you dishonest but biaised like we can all be. I am not a VOA apologist, I do not share everything on VOA or any other News source for that matter. Like all news sources and especially medias that depend on government support ( financial particularly) VOA has to take into what their superiors say, but I have not heard them support WAR as an option at worst they call for revolution through the people they interview since most are opposition members or exiled Iranians. However I really do not see this as a contradiction.

Personally I have not encountered any war mongering comments by the anchors or journalists on VOA, however they are less critical of George Bush's government as long as this administration is in power. If democrats come to power they will do the same in regard to the Democrat president and avoid undermining their foreign policy.

I just do not think that presenting the VOA as the most devilish in the balance is correct. I would not rely on the VOA but I would not discourage their current approach of heavily critisizing the Islamic Regime and its policy be it national or international.

Lets not put Ahmadinejad in a victimized postion  just because he was bullied in Columbia, he certainly does not deserve so much help. I do not claim that is what you say, its just that the current crisis between Iran and the US seems to provoke lots of speculation which however justified can also be exagerated. 


Dear Tinoush: Just don't

by Anonymousooo (not verified) on

Dear Tinoush: Just don't listen to it. Do I have to listen to Fox News? No. Do I have to listen to Rush Limbagh? Hell no!

Exercise your choice. We all have agendas and biases, even you. I bet you if VOA was espousing everything from your ideological pespective, you would be a happy camper...That's the beauty of democracy. If everyone embraced the same political and ideological point of view, there would be no need for democracy...


Tinoush- This was a really

by CeeCee (not verified) on

Tinoush- This was a really informative article, thanks a lot for writing it. The background on the bodies that run the programs and the legislation that governs it was especially useful. Keep up the good work.


To Mr. Kadivar

by NorCal (not verified) on

"As if the IRI TV tells the Truth ??"
"Of course the VOA is to a strong degree biaised and does do Propaganda against the IRI but does that make the IRI information sources more reliable ?"
The answers are NO and NO. So what? Did the author try to argue that since VOA is a propaganda outfit therefore IRIB is not? NO. This article is about VOA and not about IRIB. The assertions you make through your questions are not made by the author but by you. If you want to bitch at IRIB, by all means write an article and do so.
Why are you trying to connect Gooz with Shaghighe? If I understand you correctly, just because VOA is a propaganda outfit, one can not criticize it without mentioning that IRIB is also a propaganda outfit. And since IRIB is a bigger propaganda outfit then VOA must be ok. What a twisted logic. Whatever VOA is or isn't, it has no bearing on what IRIB is and vice versa.



by Ali (not verified) on

It all happened after Dr. Kambiz Mahmoudi started working with them. They have become the biggest liar among medias. He hired the very well known fundamental and biased people as SOURESRAFIL & AZARI.
Yes, VOA is even worse that IRI. You can check them both out for yourself. Besides why we even do such comparison? Is our standard that low? If we believe IRI is bad and wrong, why we standard them?
And that's not just that. They are extremely and seriously unprofessional. A huge number of their so called MOJRI can't even speak Farsi or make one single correct Farsi sentence.It only has a very attractive ZARGH O BARGH.
Look at their website. They don't even cover daily news about Iranian community if it doesn't have any benefit to their daily lies.
Kambiz Mahmoudi has worked with NITV( ZIA ATABI), PARS TV( SHAJAREH) & CHANNEL ONE TV( SHAHRAM HOMAYOUN) in LA and has a clear PISHEENEH of being biased, fundamental and dishonest.


To Mr. Kadivar

by tinoush on

At least, I was honest and called both VOA and IRIB propaganda. I did not whitewash one over the other. Truth is a rare commodity and if you want it you have to pay the price to get it. VOA is not providing an avenue for dialogue as you suggest. As proof, I look at the beliefs of most Iranians who listen to it. They are perturbed from reality. The Iranian listeners of VOA are pure and simple, misinformed. And you're correct. BBC is no better than VOA. The BBC is going through its own embarrassing admission of bias. But that's subject for another article.


I have looked at VOA propaganda, and it is NOT "against the WAR" as you suggest. It's simply a megaphone for the US government and functions in as a psyop warfare tool. It does not have the benefit of the Iranian people in mind, and that is exactly my point.

Darius Kadivar


by Darius Kadivar on

As if the IRI TV tells the Truth ?? So what do you suggest as a replacement the IRI propaganda Machine ? Of course the VOA is to a strong degree biaised and does do Propaganda against the IRI but does that make the IRI information sources more reliable ? I don't quite understand your outrage ? The VOA is not CNN so it can only serve as a indirect information source that sends signals as to the American Governments policy in regard to to Iran in particular and its allies in the Persian Gulf region as to its foreign policy. In a sense it is still better to have such a radio/tv than NOT at All. It is a way of establishing some form of dialogue that is impossible through the political rhetoric that is delivered at the United Nations. Your Huxlian Imagery would become Orwelian if the VOA did not exist. I do not share all the views expressed on VOA but at least they try and allow Iranians inside Iran some alternative views and often against WAR Options as far as I have seen or heard from their programs like for instance Round Table with you which is overall a good program and moderator. The VOA is no less worse than the BBC was in its opposition to the Shah. In many Ways it is even much more moderate. Besides Everyone watches VOA in Iran today which is not a surprise.

Best, DK