New Leaders Named at US-funded International Broadcasters

January 26, 2021by Associated Press Staff
The Voice of America in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Sunday installed new heads of three federally funded international broadcasters after abruptly firing Donald Trump-appointees at the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

Kelu Chao, the acting CEO of the agency, made the announcement after dismissing the previous directors of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks late Friday, just a month after they had been named to the posts.

Daisy Sindelar will be acting head of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, replacing Ted Lipien until a permanent president is named. Bay Fang will return to her post as Radio Free Asia president, replacing Stephen Yates. Kelley Sullivan will become acting Middle East Broadcasting Networks president, replacing Victoria Coates.

“I have great faith in these leaders in ensuring the highest standards of independent, objective, and professional journalism,” Chao said.

The moves follow the forced resignation of Trump’s hand-picked agency head, Michael Pack, only two hours after Joe Biden took office as president on Wednesday. The director of the Voice of America and his deputy were soon removed and the chief of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting stepped down.

Pack had been accused by Democrats and others of trying to turn VOA and the other networks into pro-Trump propaganda machines.

Chao on Sunday also announced new corporate board directors for the three broadcasters, replacing the board directors named by Pack just days before his departure. The new directors are Karen Kornbluh, ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development under President Barack Obama, who will serve as chair; Ryan Crocker, who was an ambassador to Iraq, Syria and other countries; and PR executive Michael Kempner.

“Now more than ever, U.S. international media must serve as an accurate, reliable source of news and information in places where illuminating truth is needed the most,” Kornbluh said.

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