VOA Directors Resign After Trump Appointee Takes Over Parent Agency

WASHINGTON - APRIL 11: Voice Of America Headquarters on April 11, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)
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June 15, 2020 1:09 p.m.

Top editors at Voice of America News, an independent global multimedia broadcaster funded by the U.S. government, resigned on Monday following the Senate’s approval of President Trump’s appointee for the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the federal agency overseeing VOA.

Earlier this month, the Senate approved conservative documentary filmmaker Michael Pack to head USAGM for a three-year term in a 53-38 vote. Pack’s nomination was in limbo for two years, partly due to Democratic concerns regarding alleged financial self-dealing in his businesses.

In 2018, CNN reported that several people at the VOA’s parent agency felt they would resign if Pack’s confirmation went through over concerns that Pack — who’s known for working on documentary film projects with former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon — would “turn what has been considered America’s voice abroad toward a decidedly more pro-Trump bent.”

Trump himself has recently taken aim at VOA, accusing the government-funded broadcast network of being “disgusting toward our country” during a White House coronavirus task force briefing in April.

In an internal memo to VOA staff on Monday, directors Amanda Bennett and Sandy Sugawara announced that they sent their resignation to Pack who they wrote “has the right to replace us with his own VOA leadership.” Although Bennett and Sugawara did not directly attribute their resignations to Pack’s Senate confirmation, they wrote in the staff memo that they provided a document to him that includes a sampling of VOA’s work, which they believe he will be “impressed” with.

Bennett and Sugawara’s resignation from VOA comes a day after the broadcaster reported that a top communications official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directed staffers to blacklist media requests from VOA.

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