By Tom Fitton
At the request of a scandal-plagued Democratic senator tried for bribery and corruption, the head of the government’s international media networks is abusing his office to punish employees behind a broadcast critical of leftwing billionaire George Soros. U.S.
Agency for Global Media (USAGM) Chief John F. Lansing, an Obama appointee, is utilizing Stalinist techniques to retaliate against the journalists and producers involved in the Spanish-language segment which aired in May 2018 on Television Martí and was available for months online. Eight reporters and editors at the taxpayer-funded media outlet have been fired and Lansing has ordered a review of all content to address “patterns of unethical, unprofessional, biased, or sub-standard journalism.”
An employee at the Miami, Florida-based Martí headquarters said in a local newspaper report “the environment that has been created by the upper hierarchy of the Agency for Global Media is repressive. People write with fear. Adjectives are no longer used.”
Television Martí—and its radio counterpart—operate under the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) and comprise one of the USAGM’s five international multimedia networks. The others are Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting. The media outlets get about $685 million a year from American taxpayers and reportedly reach 345 million people worldwide in 59 languages.
The global media agency was created to counter disinformation spread by oppressive regimes abroad. The USAGM website states that its mission is “to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” Television and Radio Martí were created to promote freedom and democracy by providing the people of Cuba with objective news and information programming.
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 (OSF) 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. A few years ago Judicial Watch exposed a scheme in which the U.S. government spent millions of dollars to destabilize the democratically elected, center-right government in Macedonia by colluding with Soros’ OSF.
More than five months after the Spanish-language Soros broadcast aired on Television Martí, the segment caught the eye of disgraced New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. In an October 31, 2018 letter to Lansing, the senator orders an immediate investigation into the Soros broadcast as well as an audit “on patterns of unethical and unprofessional reporting” at OCB. Menendez also smears Judicial Watch, stating that the Soros segment had “no credible sourcing” and “occasionally cites only a fringe website.”
Lansing uses similar language in a mainstream newspaper article about the recent Martí firings over the Soros video. “The person developing the Soros story was using Judicial Watch as a source as I understand it — the story was not only poorly sourced, it relied heavily on one less-than-credible source,” Lansing says in the article, which states that “Soros has emerged as a leading boogeyman on the right.”
Menendez, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee despite his sordid history, blocked President Trump’s nomination last year to replace Lansing as USAGM chief. A few years ago, Menendez was charged with federal bribery and corruption stemming from his relationship with a crooked south Florida eye doctor that lavished him with cash, gifts and trips in exchange for political favors. The eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, got convicted of stealing $73 million from Medicare and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Menendez got off because jurors were unable to reach a verdict and his trial ended in mistrial.
His colleagues on the Senate Ethics Committee determined that the veteran lawmaker not only violated senate rules, but also federal law and applicable standards of conduct. In a public letter of admonition, the committee writes that over a six-year period Menendez knowingly and repeatedly accepted gifts of significant value from Melgen in violation of senate rules and federal law. “Additionally, while accepting these gifts, you used your position as a Member of the Senate to advance Dr. Melgen’s personal and business interests,” the committee writes.
Menendez has been embroiled in other corruption schemes throughout his political career and Judicial Watch has served as a credible source in uncovering them. 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. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the developer’s Washington D.C. lobbyist was a longtime senior aide to Menendez. The senator was also embroiled in a hooker scandal in the Dominican Republic with his incarcerated eye doctor pal and he hired an illegal immigrant sex offender to work in his senate office.