Now off to VOA.
Democratic Lawmakers ‘Outraged’ at New USAGM Chief’s Dismissalshttps://www.voanews.com/press-freedom/d ... dismissals
WASHINGTON - Two U.S. lawmakers said Thursday they are “outraged” by the dismissals that Michael Pack, the new chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the agency that oversees Voice of America, has ordered.
Pack dismissed the heads of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and the Open Technology Fund.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Congressman Eliot L. Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, both Democrats, said in a joint statement, “That Mr. Pack took this drastic measure in his first week on the job is shocking, and we have deep concerns that he takes the helm of a critical agency with the intent to prioritize the Trump administration’s political whims over protecting and promoting independent reporting, which is a pillar of freedom and democracy.”
The Republican leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Michael McCaul, and Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn issued a joint statement saying they were troubled by the dismissal of Laura Cunningham, head of the Open Technology Fund, and its board of directors.
The statement said the Open Technology Fund “has funded the development of open-source, security-tested tools to help those living under authoritarian regimes or those living in vulnerable situations, such as in Hong Kong, to access the internet and to communicate freely with one another without the fear of reprisal.”
The Associated Press reported that Pack did not give specific reasons for each dismissal, only that he was acting consistent with his authority as the new USAGM CEO.
The top two officials at VOA, the director, Amanda Bennett, and deputy, Sandy Sugawara, resigned from their posts on Monday.
Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also criticized Pack’s actions, warning the moves could undermine USAGM’s independence.
In recent weeks, Trump has criticized VOA for its news coverage of China during the coronavirus crisis. When asked about the Pack nomination on May 15, Trump said, “Voice of America is run in a terrible manner. They’re not the Voice of America. They’re the opposite of the Voice of America.”
Pack, in his mid-60s, has held previous executive positions at U.S. government international and public media agencies. But in recent years, he told USAGM employees, he has run a private venture, Manifold Productions, that has produced 15 documentaries that have aired in the U.S. on the Public Broadcasting Service.
“These films were also my way of telling America’s story,” he said. “Although making documentaries is very satisfying work, I was eager to return to international broadcasting at this critical juncture in our history."
He said, “America’s adversaries have stepped up their propaganda and disinformation efforts. They are aggressively promoting their very different visions of the world.”