On June 16, the top two officials at the Voice of America resigned with the arrival of new Trump appointee Michael Pack as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (see Top VOA Officials Resign as Michael Pack Assumes Charge as CEO of @USAGMgov).
On Wednesday evening, the news media reports the dismissal of the remaining heads of the four organizations under USAGM. OCB already has an interim director since 2018, and VOA was just vacated. For those unfamiliar with the agency, this used to be BBG prior to its “larger modernization effort” in August 2018.
The heads of four organizations overseen by the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) were all dismissed Wednesday night — a move likely to heighten concerns that new Trump-appointed CEO Michael Pack means to turn the agency into a political arm of the administration.
In what a former official described as a “Wednesday night massacre,” the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund were all ousted, multiple sources told CNN.
“They let go all of the heads of the networks. It’s unprecedented,” an agency source told CNN.
A source familiar with the situation said at least two of the removals — that of RFE/RL’s Jamie Fly and MBN’s Alberto Fernandez — were unexpected. The head of the Open Technology Fund, Libby Liu, had resigned effective July, but was still fired Wednesday evening, one of the sources said.
In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, an ally the ultra-conservative former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is expected to be named to lead the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
BREAKING: The heads of four organizations overseen by the US Agency for Global Media were dismissed tonight. A former official called it a "Wednesday night massacre." Full story by @jmhansler and 🙋♂️ https://t.co/9KaMimlLM3
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 18, 2020
SCOOP: Federal media chief Michael Pack has installed key Trump loyalists to leadership posts at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, a memo reviewed by CNBC says. He's also eliminated various board members who have been part of USAGM for years. https://t.co/lcx9qyqZgz
— Brian Schwartz (@schwartzbCNBC) June 17, 2020
Michael Pack, the new head of the US Agency for Global Media, sent an introductory email to his staff today, amid rumors he’ll be firing a bunch of career staffers. I obtained the text: https://t.co/VZsG7v05Qx
— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) June 17, 2020
Proud of what we accomplished over the past three years at MBN, including at @alhurranews, humbled and honored to have worked with some great people, very talented journalists and writers in Springfield, Dubai, Beirut and throughout the region. 1/3
— Alberto Miguel Fernandez (@AlbertoMiguelF5) June 18, 2020
Chair of House Foreign Affairs Cttee, @RepEliotEngel has raised alarm over impending purge of career officials at US Agency for Global Media by its new Trump-appointed head, Michael Pack.
"Mr Pack needs to understand that USAGM is not the Ministry of Information." pic.twitter.com/PPkiaapgl5
— Julian Borger (@julianborger) June 17, 2020
The newly confirm CEO Michael Pack “oversees all aspects of U.S. international media.” He reportedly also “provides day-to-day management of USAGM’s operations, including oversight of the technical, professional, and administrative support as well as strategic guidance and management of other programs. USAGM’s management team is listed here.
"Voice of America director, deputy resign amid Trump clash"https://t.co/MQ8guN9QcC
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) June 15, 2020
“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.” https://t.co/K6W4CEe3dn
— Blake News (@blakehounshell) June 15, 2020
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) June 15, 2020
Admin says it doesn’t like “Chinese propaganda” (which Trump tweeted on his own) as the admin undermines VOA when at the same time Trump pushes Russian propaganda and doesn’t restrict RT, Sputnik, or OAN. Let’s see the tone change when Xi dangles another (faux) trade deal. https://t.co/eASDZWVVQi
— Matt Armstrong (@mountainrunner) June 15, 2020
FOIA'd communications reveal that the CDC press office has officially blacklisted Voice of America, citing White House displeasure with its coverage https://t.co/naY0OwMuFt
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) June 15, 2020
Congratulations to Michael Pack on his confirmation as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media. @USAGMgov has the important mission of providing accurate and reliable information to the most challenging media environments. I look forward to working with Michael in his new role.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 6, 2020
Public Media Lab, a nonprofit run by Trump nominee Michael Pack, is under investigation by the D.C. attorney general. This comes after @CNBC's reporting on the group and how they funneled donor money into Pack's production company, Manifold Productions. https://t.co/jr5Z5u5Oxp
— Brian Schwartz (@schwartzbCNBC) May 14, 2020
SCOOP: A nonprofit run by Michael Pack, Trump's pick to lead the agency that oversees Voice of America and other outlets, is now under investigation by the DC attorney general's office https://t.co/p9L81EaDr7
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) May 14, 2020
New- @SenatorMenendez says DC Attorney General’s office is investigating Michael Pack—conservative filmmaker tied to Steve Bannon and Trump’s nominee to lead @USAGMgov, which oversees @VOANews—for self-dealing. His nom was scheduled to get SFRC vote Wed, amid Trump attacks on VOA pic.twitter.com/XcFXNjgi0X
— Conor Finnegan (@cjf39) May 14, 2020
New – the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is delaying a vote for Michael Pack, a Bannon ally and conservative filmmaker, to lead the US Agency for Global Media (includes Voice of America’s). Vote was supposed to be tomorrow. Via committee spox pic.twitter.com/RtPoG1ppD5
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) May 14, 2020
"Trump’s surprising target in war on media: Voice of America"https://t.co/uOfUimTg0u
— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) May 13, 2020
NEW: Trump pushes GOP senators to confirm Michael Pack, a Steve Bannon ally, as head of US global media agency. Dems question his financial transactions. Employees at @VOANews & other outlets fear loss of journalistic independence. w/ @CatieEdmondson. https://t.co/DumdGo16de
— Edward Wong (@ewong) May 8, 2020
Trump White House launches extraordinary attack on @VOANews w/ false claims that it amplifies China’s propaganda. In fact, China has criticized VOA & its independent reporting. White House absurdly says “much of the U.S. media takes its lead from China.” https://t.co/sZsySq64Yw
— Edward Wong (@ewong) April 11, 2020
NEW: Trump’s nominee to lead a federal media agency, Michael Pack, funded his private company with donations from his nonprofit. The group has funneled at least $1.6 million in grant money into Manifold Productions. https://t.co/LBPzSiylU7
— Brian Schwartz (@schwartzbCNBC) September 20, 2019