This is very grim. I hope that this story gets a lot of media attention, because this is a gigantic step into the darkness of Trump-generated conspiracy theory and right wing nuttiness and away from credible independent journalism. Trump has achieved a minor coup at the taxpayer-funded agency that supervises the Voice of America. Huffington Post is reporting
Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker and friend of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is taking over as head of the Agency for Global Media after the Senate finally succumbed to White House pressure to confirm him.
The Voice of America’s top two editors ― both veteran journalists appointed during the Obama administration ― resigned on Monday, citing Pack’s arrival.
“As the Senate-confirmed CEO, he has the right to replace us with his own VOA leadership,” VOA director Amanda Bennett and deputy Sandy Sugawara wrote to staff on Monday.
The turmoil follows a major confrontation involving the blacklisting of the VOA by a public relations manager at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under pressure from the White House. The Trump administration accused the VOA of pushing Chinese “propaganda” about the coronavirus pandemic in a bizarre statement that claimed that “much of the U.S. media takes its lead from China.”
This is pure Trump inspired madness. And it gets worse. Sebastian Gorka is now slated to come on board as well. Amanda Bennett, the former VOA director, is a Pulitizer Prize winning investigative journalist. Pack and Gorka are both on the right-wing conspiracy theory end of the scale, by contrast. Voice of America journalists legitimately fear that Pack and Gorka “will interfere with the organization’s independent newsroom and turn it into a pro-Trump messaging machine,” in the words of CNN Business.
Monday’s resignations renewed concerns that Pack, an ally of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, will attempt to clean house at VOA, which is part of the US Agency for Global Media, USAGM for short.–A well-placed VOA employee said there are internal discussions about a sizable shakeup coming to the agency that may include former White House official and conservative radio host Sebastian Gorka taking on a leadership position. Given Gorka’s partisan background, such an appointment would send a major message about VOA shifting to become a mouthpiece for the administration.