Bronx, NY—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today called on Michael Pack, CEO of the United States Agency for Global Media, to testify at a Committee hearing about his leadership of the agency. Chairman Engel announced a hearing for Wednesday, July 8 at 2:00 pm.
“The law requires that American international broadcasting be independent from influence by any administration official—including the CEO. Mr. Pack’s day-one purge of senior officials and appointment of right-wing ideologues and Trump loyalists sends an alarming message. Mr. Pack should explain to the Committee and the American people his vision for the agency, the reason for terminating so many senior staff all at once, and his other initial actions as CEO,” said Chairman Engel.
The law requires our broadcasters to remain independent and free from interference by administration officials. This so-called “firewall” was clarified and reinforced just last week by a new USAGM rule in the Federal Register.
Last week, Mr. Pack removed the heads of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Network, and the Open Technology Fund. Additionally, he has named new boards to the services comprising himself, his chief of staff, three Trump Administration political appointees from across the Executive Branch, and Jonathan Alexandre, Senior Counsel of the lobbying arm of Liberty Counsel, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an Anti-LGBTQ hate group.
Chairman Engel also learned that Mr. Pack intended to remove eight career agency employees in USAGM’s traditionally nonpolitical front office. While he reportedly paused that action, he has also suspended delegations of authority to these individuals, meaning they can no longer perform their jobs.
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