Head of U.S. Agency for Global Media Resigns

January 25, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
The Voice of America in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — The government agency that runs Voice of America is getting a new chief executive after the controversial previous head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media resigned Wednesday.

Michael Pack was given an ultimatum by the Biden administration: resign or be fired.

He was replaced by Kelu Chao as acting chief executive officer of the agency, which oversees six radio or television broadcast networks.

On her first day as chief executive, she removed Pack’s appointee who headed Voice of America.

Although Pack is gone, controversy continues about allegations of financial self-dealing and using the government-sponsored broadcast networks to advance conservative interests of the Trump administration.

Pack, a documentary filmmaker, headed the U.S. Agency for Global Media for only a year-and-a-half.

Shortly after taking office, he fired the heads of the news outlets under the umbrella agency’s control and replaced them with Trump loyalists. He disbanded a bipartisan board that oversees the agency and launched investigations into journalists suspected of bias against Trump.

He also revoked U.S. Agency for Global Media rules that protected Voice of America journalists from political interference.

At the same time, he had editorials prepared that presented Trump administration policies favorably. They were read over the international radio networks and posted on their websites in various languages.

On Jan. 11, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to the Voice of America staff at Pack’s invitation, asking them to be less critical of the United States.

“It is not fake news for you to broadcast that this is the greatest nation in the history of the world and the greatest nation this civilization has ever known,” Pompeo told the Voice of America staff. “I’m not saying ignore our faults. Indeed, just the opposite. It is to acknowledge them. But this isn’t the Vice of America, focusing on everything that’s wrong with our great nation. It’s the Voice of America.”

Pack’s actions were met by outrage among long-time staff members, some of whom sued him and wrote letters to Congress to protest what they said were violations of their charter intended to prevent bias in news reports.

Their lawsuit in U.S. District Court sought an injunction to prevent Pack from making personnel decisions about journalists employed by the agency. They also wanted him prevented from communicating directly with them.

On Nov. 20, 2020, Judge Beryl Howell granted a preliminary injunction.

It ordered Pack to stop “conducting any and all investigations into journalistic content, individual editors or journalists or alleged editorial lapses or breaches of journalistic ethics at Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.”

Pack continues to face a lawsuit by the District of Columbia attorney general that accuses him of shifting $4 million to a documentary company he owns from a non-profit he controls. The lawsuit says Pack was trying to enrich himself while violating regulations on non-profit organizations.

His temporary replacement, Chao, has worked at Voice of America and the U.S. Agency for Global Media for more than 40 years. She is the first woman to be the agency’s chief executive officer.

A U.S. Agency for Global Media announcement said President Joe Biden is expected to nominate a permanent chief executive officer soon.

In The News

Health

Voting

Political News

Mississippi Supreme Court Overturns Successful Ballot Initiative
In The States
Mississippi Supreme Court Overturns Successful Ballot Initiative
May 16, 2021
by Dan McCue

JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday overturned a voter-approved ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana, holding that the election law governing ballot referendums is out of date. The decision, which could halt other citizen-led efforts to amend the state constitution, struck down a... Read More

Ex-University of Pittsburgh Chancellor to Chair Pennsylvania Redistricting Commission
In The States
Ex-University of Pittsburgh Chancellor to Chair Pennsylvania Redistricting Commission
May 16, 2021
by Dan McCue

HARRISBURG — Mark Nordenberg, a former University of Pittsburgh chancellor, will chair the committee in charge of drawing Pennsylvania’s legislative districts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced this week. The appointment means Nordenberg, a former dean of Pitt’s law school, will hold the potentially tie-breaking vote on... Read More

House GOP Elects Trump Defender Stefanik to No. 3 Post
Congress
House GOP Elects Trump Defender Stefanik to No. 3 Post
May 14, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Republican House members handily elected Rep. Elise Stefanik, of New York, to the number three post in their conference leadership Friday, hoping her elevation will end an intra-party feud between allies of former President Donald Trump and his GOP detractors. With little suspense, Stefanik... Read More

China Irked By US Push for Taiwan Presence at World Health Assembly
Geopolitics
China Irked By US Push for Taiwan Presence at World Health Assembly
May 14, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

Over the last two weeks, China and the U.S. have made dueling comments about whether Taiwan should be admitted to this year's World Health Assembly, the meeting where priorities and policies of the World Health Organization are set, which will be held later this month. U.S.... Read More

House Reaches Bipartisan Agreement on Jan. 6 Commission
Congress
House Reaches Bipartisan Agreement on Jan. 6 Commission
May 14, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - A House panel reached a bipartisan agreement Friday on legislation that will establish a 9/11-style commission to review events surrounding the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol. The deal reached by the House Homeland Security Committee means a vote on the Jan. 6... Read More

Uptick in Mental Health Problems Prompts Calls for Crisis Intervention
Mental Health
Uptick in Mental Health Problems Prompts Calls for Crisis Intervention
May 14, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Incidents the past few days in New York City demonstrate why a congressional subcommittee met Thursday to discuss “a national mental health crisis.” Last week, an emotionally disturbed man barricaded himself in a subway motorman’s car, shutting down train service on the rail line... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top