The head of a U.S. government agency has apologized to George Soros and his Open Society Foundations for the airing of a program that espoused conspiracy theories about Soros and called him a “multimillionaire Jew.”
In letters sent earlier this month, John F. Lansing, chief executive and director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, voiced his personal apologies to Soros and OSF president Patrick Gaspard for the program, which he said had “made several false and negative assertions” about the billionaire philanthropist and had furthered “age-old tropes against the Jewish community.”
“It was based on extremely poor and unprofessional journalism, and it was utterly offensive in its anti-Semitism and clear bias,” Lansing wrote in the letter to Soros, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. “I take this breach in our fundamental obligation to provide accurate, balanced, and objective reporting very seriously.”
The 15-minute, Spanish-language segment was aired in May by Radio and Television Martí, which is overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and its Office of Cuba Broadcasting. The Miami-based network broadcasts news and other programs promoting U.S. interests to audiences in Cuba.
The program, which has since been taken offline, called Soros a “nonpracticing Jew of flexible morals,” claimed that he was involved in “clandestine operations that led to the dismantling of the Soviet Union” and described him as “the architect of the financial collapse of 2008.”
It also made repeated references to Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has launched an “Expose Soros” fundraising campaign and had claimed, without evidence, that the “Soros-occupied State Department” was funding a migrant caravan on its way to the United States.
Lansing acknowledged criticism of Judicial Watch in his letter to Gaspard and said that due to its weak sourcing, the program “should never have been produced in the first place.”
“Like you, I do not find an article that uses Judicial Watch as its sole source to be remotely credible,” Lansing said. He added that it was “all the more impactful, and regrettable,” that news of the program broke around the time of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, the mailing of pipe bombs to Soros and other prominent critics of Trump, and “other blatantly anti-Semitic attacks on candidates and individuals.”
The Open Society Foundations confirmed Thursday that it had received the letters. USAGM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
News of the anti-Soros program was the latest blow to Radio and Television Martí, whose broadcasts are largely blocked by Cuba’s government and have been panned by some critics as being of questionable quality. Proponents maintain that the broadcaster helps advance U.S. interests and provides a useful alternative to Cuba’s state-run media.
USAGM has not answered questions about who ordered the anti-Soros broadcast. Lansing said in both letters that he had taken several steps in the wake of reports about the program, including launching an internal investigation, placing the employees involved on leave, instituting audits of all Office of Cuba Broadcasting content, and ordering the hiring of a “standards and practices” editor as well as a refresher class on ethics for all OCB journalists.
“I am committed to repairing our relationship with you and with the Open Society Foundations, and I am open to any and all further communications,” he said in his letter to Soros.