New leaders named at US-funded international broadcasters
Former President Donald Trumps hand-picked chief of U.S. international broadcasting has quit amid a burgeoning staff revolt and growing calls for his resignation. Daisy Sindelar will be acting head of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, replacing Ted Lipien until a permanent president is named. Bay Fang will return to her post as Radio Free Asia president, replacing Stephen Yates. Kelley Sullivan will become acting Middle East Broadcasting Networks president, replacing Victoria Coates. Chao on Sunday also announced new corporate board directors for the three broadcasters, replacing the board directors named by Pack just days before his departure.
More heads roll at US-funded international broadcasters
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2010, file photo, the headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is seen with U.S., RFE/RL and the Czech Republic flags in the foreground in Prague. The heads of three federally-funded international broadcasters were abruptly fired late Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, as the Biden administration completed a house-cleaning of Donald Trump appointees at the U.S. Agency for Global Media. (Michal Kamaryt/CTK via AP, File)WASHINGTON – The heads of three federally funded international broadcasters were abruptly fired late Friday as the Biden administration completed a house-cleaning of Donald Trump-appointees at the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Trump’s USAGM chief Michael Pack had been accused by Democrats and others of trying to turn VOA and its sister networks into pro-Trump propaganda machines. VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences.
Biden cleans house at VOA after revolt over Trump changes
Former President Donald Trumps hand-picked chief of U.S. international broadcasting has quit amid a burgeoning staff revolt and growing calls for his resignation. Michael Pack resigned as the chief executive office of the U.S. Agency for Global Media just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. The moves come just a day after President Joe Biden was sworn in and demanded the resignation of Trump’s hand-picked CEO of USAGM, Michael Pack. The agency said in a statement that VOA director Robert Reilly had been fired just weeks after having taken the job. Soon after his resignation, the Biden White House announced that a veteran VOA journalist, Kelu Chao, would head USAGM on an interim basis.
Trump global broadcasting chief quits amid VOA staff revolt
Former President Donald Trumps hand-picked chief of U.S. international broadcasting has quit amid a burgeoning staff revolt and growing calls for his resignation. Michael Pack resigned as the chief executive office of the U.S. Agency for Global Media just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump’s hand-picked chief of U.S. international broadcasting has quit amid a burgeoning staff revolt and growing calls for his resignation. Michael Pack resigned as the chief executive office of the U.S. Agency for Global Media just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday. That reassignment prompted a new round of criticism and demands for VOA chief Robert Reilly to resign.
Voice of America reporter reassigned for Pompeo questions
NEW YORK – The White House reporter for Voice of America was abruptly pulled from her beat after trying to question Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following a speech he gave at the government agency this week. Founded during World War II and run by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Voice of America broadcasts news from the United States to countries around the world. Apparently unsatisfied with the questions put to Pompeo, Widakuswara shouted her own as he was leaving. After Pompeo left, Widakuswara asked Reilly why he didn't ask “any of the questions that we want to know about," according to a recording of the encounter. Steve Herman, who is Voice of America's White House bureau chief, tweeted his support for his colleague.
Pompeo trumpets Trump, razzes critics in speech to VOA
FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2020 file photo, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington. He also denounced protests by some VOA staffers who complained that live coverage of his speech would violate VOA’s mandate to present unbiased news to foreign audiences. “We allowed security protocols to lapse, and VOA lost its commitment to its founding mission,” Pompeo said. But, Pompeo said VOA journalists should emulate his example in extolling U.S. virtues. Pompeo rejected the complaints and compared them to actions to ban Trump by Twitter and other social media outlets.
Trump-appointed federal media agency CEO blasted in letter by Radio Free Europe leaders
Leaders of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty blasted the Trump-appointed CEO of the U.S. federal media agency. Radio-Free Europe/Radio Liberty is considered a non-federal broadcasting network, but it is linked to the USAGM. The letter includes criticism of Pack's board appointees, who later approved Ted Lipien to become the CEO of Radio Free Europe. The letter was signed by members of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's news division and editorial board, including the editor in chief and heads of digital strategy. Representatives for USAGM and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty did not return requests for comment.cnbc.com
Pro-Trump shakeups continue at VOA's parent agency
In this June 15, 2020, photo, The Voice of America building in Washington. Shortly after assuming his position in June, Pack dismissed the OTF board, whose members sued and won a court order against their dismissals. In a letter to the OTF, Pack said the fund had been improperly created without congressional input in 2012 and that its leadership had since been involved in numerous conflicts of interest, requiring the drastic step. The new personnel announcements and move against the OTF follow Pack's appointment on Dec. 9 of Robert Reilly to run VOA. VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences.
Trump loyalist Michael Pack plots final purge at federal media agency before Biden takes office
President Donald Trump's pick to lead a federal media agency is attempting one last purge of personnel before Joe Biden is sworn in as the next commander-in-chief. Michael Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, is pushing for the removal of agency officials he previously put on administrative leave, according to people briefed on the matter. The organization includes media entities such as Voice of America and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. Prior to taking the helm at USAGM, Pack was a conservative filmmaker. The whistleblower complaint against Pack was filed in September to the State Department's inspector general and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency watchdog.cnbc.com
Biden team meets with former U.S. media agency leaders, including some ousted by Trump appointee
Biden's USAGM transition team leader is Richard Stengel, an MSNBC political analyst and former managing editor at Time magazine. A Biden transition spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Names to replace Pack that have been floated to Biden agency review members include Grant Turner, who was once USAGM's acting CEO, this person said. The Biden team also conferred with Steve Capus, a former senior advisor at USAGM, who was ousted at the start of Pack's tenure. A spokeswoman for NPR did not deny that Lansing spoke to Biden's transition team and declined to comment further.cnbc.com
Judge rules against Trump global media chief after firings
The ruling effectively bars U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack from making personnel decisions and interfering in editorial operations. Pack, a conservative filmmaker, Trump ally and onetime associate of former Trump political adviser Steve Bannon, made no secret of his intent to shake up the agency after taking over in June. In July, Pack had ordered an investigation into the posting of a video package featuring now President-elect Joe Biden on a VOA website. Fourteen senior VOA journalists sent a letter to management in August protesting Pack’s actions, including the dismissal of foreign journalists and his comments denigrating VOA staff, which they said were endangering their colleagues and the international broadcaster’s credibility. The global media agency did not immediately respond to a written request for comment on the ruling.
Suspended officials sue agency that runs Voice of America
WASHINGTON – Suspended officials at the agency that runs the Voice of America news outlet filed suit against it Thursday, accusing its CEO and his top aides of trying to turn it into a vehicle to promote President Donald Trump's agenda. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, says the actions of U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack and his senior advisers violate the “statutory firewall” intended to protect VOA from political interference. National Public Radio, which first reported the lawsuit, said the five plaintiffs have all been suspended by Pack and are seeking reinstatement. His moves, however, have been criticized by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who control the agency’s budget. VOA was founded during World War II and its congressional charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences.
VOA journalists protest new US global media chief's moves
The new chief of U.S. global media is plowing ahead with changes to the Voice of America and other international broadcasters that are heightening concerns about their future as independent news organizations. In a letter to VOA management sent on Monday, 14 senior VOA journalists expressed deep concern and profound disappointment with steps U.S. Agency for Global Media head Michael Pack has taken that they say also threaten to harm American national security. At least 16 foreign VOA journalists will be forced to leave the country in the coming weeks unless their visas are renewed. "Michael Packs actions risk crippling programs and projects for some countries that are considered national security priorities," the journalists wrote in the letter to acting VOA director Elez Biberaj. In line with strictly upholding the VOA charter, which was signed into law in 1976, we insist on competent and professional oversight for VOA and our sister media organizations," the journalists wrote.
Trump global media chief probes pro-Biden VOA content
Agency for Global Media chief Michael Pack said Thursday his staff is looking into the segment that it called pro-Biden and weighing disciplinary action against those responsible. Pack has drawn criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for initiating a major shakeup of the agency that oversees VOA and its sister networks. His response to the video package could intensify those concerns while heartening VOA critics, including at the White House, who believe the agency is biased against Trump. That criticism exploded earlier this year when the White House attacked VOA for its coverage of COVID-19. The director and deputy director of VOA resigned within days of Pack taking control of AGM in early June.
Undaunted, US global media chief plows ahead with changes
WASHINGTON Despite a barrage of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, the new chief of U.S. global media is plowing ahead with changes to the Voice of America and other international broadcasters that are heightening concerns about their future as independent news organizations. Pack on Wednesday fired the executive editor of Radio Free Asia, Bay Fang, whom he had demoted from president shortly after assuming office last month. Although the review is not complete and no visa actions have yet been taken, some believe the review itself sends a chilling message to journalists. The visa review, in particular, will be perceived as a threat to many reporters," said Matt Armstrong, a former Republican appointee to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which was the AGM's predecessor. Failing to renew (visas) may result in harsh penalties for some of these reporters and their families, from jail to even death."
Trump allies take aim at his global media chief for firings
WASHINGTON Seven U.S. senators, including two strong allies of President Donald Trump, harshly criticized Trump's new chief of U.S.-funded global media on Wednesday for firing the heads of several international broadcasters without consulting Congress. Wednesday's letter was notable in that it was signed by the two powerful Trump allies who are particularly close to the president. The director and deputy director of VOA resigned just days before the firings, which also included the dismissal of each of their governing boards. Conservatives have in particular assailed the firings of former Rubio staffer Jamie Fly as head of RFE/RL and former U.S. diplomat Alberto Fernandez as head of MBN. "We urge you to respect the unique independence that enable USAGM's outlets and grantees to help cultivate a free and open world," the wrote.
Trump global media chief faces GOP backlash over firings
The criticism of Michael Pack is unusual because its coming from supporters of President Donald Trump who had backed his controversial nomination to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media over staunch Democratic objections. Those moves have alarmed Democrats who fear Pack intends to turn the agency into a Trump administration propaganda machine. There was no public explanation of why Pack would dismiss any of the officials, let alone those favored by conservatives. Ambassador Fernandez was the greatest asset America had in foreign broadcasting, Gorka wrote on Twitter shortly after the dismissals became public. In addition to Fernandez and Fly, Pack also removed the head of Radio Free Asia, Bay Fang, and the acting chief of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting on Wednesday.
New VOA chief seeks to ease fears of any Trump propaganda
In this image provided by the Voice of America, Amanda Bennett poses for a photo on Nov. 16, 2016, in Washington. Bennett, the director of Voice of America and her deputy Sandy Sugawara resigned Monday, June 15, 2020, following recent clashes with the Trump administration. The pair announced they were leaving the organization as Trump ally and conservative filmmaker Michael Pack takes over leadership of the agency that oversees VOA. (Magda Hishmeh/Voice of America via AP)WASHINGTON The new chief of U.S.-funded international broadcasting sought Wednesday to play down fears that he intends to turn the Voice of America and its sister outlets into Trump administration propaganda machines. In his job, he oversees VOA, along with Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Cuba-focused Radio and TV Marti.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to meet next week on embattled Trump nominee Pack
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is planning to hold a meeting next week on President Donald Trump's controversial nominee to lead a federal media organization. The committee has been reviewing Pack's nomination since at least last year. The president publicly pressured senators to vote on Pack's nomination at a recent press conference. Pack's media company has also seen a financial benefit from his work with the Claremont Institute, after signing a commercial fundraising contract four years ago. Claremont's tax return for fiscal year 2016, from July of that year through June 2017, shows that Manifold Productions helped raise almost $200,000 during that time period.cnbc.com
Sen. Bob Menendez accuses Trump media agency nominee Michael Pack of possible self-dealing, illegal activity
The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is telling the White House that President Donald Trump's nominee to lead a federal media organization could have been involved with self-dealing and illegal activity. The move by Menendez comes after Trump mentioned Pack during a recent tirade against lawmakers who haven't confirmed a number of his nominees to key positions. Pack is a conservative documentary filmmaker who once worked on two films with former White House chief strategist and 2016 Trump campaign boss Steve Bannon. Pack engaged in inappropriate or unlawful activity related to transactions between his business (Manifold Productions) and his non-profit (Public Media Lab)" and "whether Mr. Pack has yet to provide the Committee with the requested information or to engage in a good-faith and serious effort to do so," Menendez said.cnbc.com