Bronx, NY—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding reporting that senior political appointees at the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) are breaching the statutory firewall meant to protect the broadcast services from interference by an administration, including by targeting Voice of America’s (VOA) chief White House correspondent:
“One of Michael Pack’s first actions as USAGM’s CEO was to remove Voice of America’s standards editor, a breach of the firewall meant to protect VOA and our other broadcasters from interference by any administration. Hobbling VOA’s ability to police itself, Mr. Pack is now sending his right-wing political appointees after a respected and experienced journalist who recently authored stories providing unbiased reporting on President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. Mr. Pack’s attempt to tell the broadcast services more broadly how to deal with perceived conflicts of interest likewise breaches the independence of those services and their journalists. VOA’s acting director should ignore any attempt by USAGM management to improperly interfere in the service’s work.
“Michael Pack’s short tenure as USAGM CEO has been a disaster, and this latest action builds on his alarming record of improper and retaliatory behavior that witnesses described during the Committee’s oversight hearing last month—a hearing at which Mr. Pack refused to appear in defiance of a duly authorized subpoena. Mr. Pack and those around him appear to have no respect for USAGM’s mission or the laws governing our international broadcasting efforts. I reiterate my call for Mr. Pack to resign or be fired. If this new reporting is accurate, the USAGM political appointees involved should be held accountable for violating the statutory firewall.”
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