Pack sent packing... Joe Biden did not waste any time in getting rid of political hack Michael Pack from the CEO post of the US Agency for Global Media.
Much damage has already been done.
USAG is the broadcasting arm of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Middle East Broadcasting Network, Radio Free Asia and Radio, and TV Marti (Cuba).
Pack, conservative filmmaker (“Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words”), made two films with Steve Bannon, the disgraced and now pardoned strategist of former president Donald Trump.
The Senate confirmed Pack’s nomination to head the USAG on June 4 amid concerns expressed by House Foreign Affairs committee chairman Eliot Engel that he would turn the VOA into a mouthpiece of the White House.
Those concerns were justified.
Foreign Policy Magazine ran a report Oct. 27 headlined, “Trump Appointee Seeks to Turn US Media Agency into a Political Cheerleader.”
It noted that a week before the presidential election, Pack “eliminated a recent firewall provision established to ensure the independence of news operations at the VOA and other government-sponsored news outlets and to shield their journalists from the interference of political leadership.”
Grant Turner, former acting CEO, and chief financial officer of the USAG, told a House committee: “Nothing in my 17 years comes even close to the gross mismanagement, the abuse of authority, the violations of law that have occurred since Michael Pack assumed the role of CEO.”
Pack resigned Jan. 21 after being informed that Team Biden wanted to remove him. The president appointed Kelu Chao, an almost 40-year veteran of the VOA, acting CEO.
Biden also removed Bob Reilly as VOA director and Elizabeth Robbins as deputy director.
Reilly did not exactly cover himself with glory when he reassigned VOA reporter Patsy Widakusawara on Jan. 11 for asking ex-secretary of state Mike Pompeo, “What are you doing to repair the US reputation around the world?”
He declared the reporter was “out of order” for posing the question.
By getting rid of Pack and Reilly, Biden ensures that the VOA will live up to its mandate to supply “accurate, objective, and comprehensive” programming that does not stand for any single segment of American society.
The journalism community applauds Biden for his quick action to boost morale and restore the luster to the USAGM.