Politics Judge slaps down Trump appointee who has sought to reshape Voice of America and related agencies

08:05  21 november  2020
08:05  21 november  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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At Voice of America , Trump Appointee Sought Political Influence Over Coverage 5:09. Since taking office in June, Pack has upended the agency . In a podcast interview last week with the pro - Trump website The Federalist, Pack said he had to take action because many executives and

The new Trump -appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) –­ which oversees American taxpayer-funded news broadcasting around the world, including Voice of America (VOA) –­ fired three of the agency 's network heads on Wednesday, just days after the director and deputy

A federal judge issued a series of preliminary injunctions against a Trump appointee who has enacted sweeping and controversial changes at Voice of America and other government-funded news networks, effectively stopping the appointee’s efforts to reshape the international broadcasters.

The ruling late Friday by Judge Beryl A. Howell in district court in Washington was a setback for Michael Pack, who in June took over Voice of America’s parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), and immediately set about firing senior leaders and disbanding oversight boards.

Pack had asserted the right to direct how journalists at VOA and sister networks such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia covered the news, a violation of the traditional “firewall” that ensures the networks aren’t government mouthpieces. Pack’s declaration was viewed by journalists at the networks as both alarming and ironic, given that their broadcasts — which are intended to counter foreign government’s official censorship and propaganda — would themselves be subjected to potential censorship by a political appointee of the U.S. government.

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Voice of America 's 5 Months Under Trump CEO: Lawsuits, Bias Claims, And A Sex Scandal. Crisis has been the defining constant at the Voice of America and its parent agency for the past five months. At Voice of America , Trump Appointee Sought Political Influence Over Coverage.

President Donald Trump , who has consistently railed against the news media, has The moves have raised concerns that the appointee of President Donald Trump will seek to end the editorial Voice of America director Amanda Bennett and deputy director Sandy Sugawara, both veteran journalists

Pack’s actions and statements — including evidence-free suggestions that VOA was a nest of foreign spies — raised concerns that Pack was seeking to create news favorable to President Trump, his political patron.

Howell’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed last month by five senior executives at USAGM whom Pack had fired or suspended in August in what was seen as a purge of those opposed to Pack’s plans. The former employees sought to stop Pack from interfering in the editorial affairs of the broadcasters his agency oversees.

In a ruling issued late Friday, Howell imposed a series of preliminary injunctions that effectively bar Pack from direct involvement in the networks’ editorial operations.

The ruling prevents Pack from making personnel decisions involving journalists at the networks; from directly communicating with editors and journalists employed by them; and from investigating any editors or news stories produced by them.

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Two top officials at Voice of America resigned on Monday as an appointee of President Trump prepares to take control of international network and other US The Trump administration had been trying to get its nominee, Michael Pack, through the Senate confirmation process for two years.

The judge also said an investigation ordered by Pack early last month of VOA’s chief White House reporter, Steve Herman, “imposes an unconstitutional prior restraint not just on Herman’s speech, but on the speech of [Herman’s editors] and journalists at VOA.”

Pack ordered the investigation of Herman because of unspecified concerns about bias in Herman’s coverage of Trump. But no finding or disciplinary measures resulted from it.

Lee R. Crain, one of the attorneys who represented the plaintiffs, said Howell’s ruling ensures that journalists at the agencies can “rest assured that the First Amendment protects them from government efforts to control” their reporting. “They are free to do exactly what Congress intended: export independent, First Amendment-style journalism to the world.”

USAGM’s representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The order won’t restore the jobs of the employees fired by Pack, including Grant Turner, the name plaintiff (Turner had been USAGM’s chief financial officer when Pack fired him and the other senior employees). The former employees’ work status is the subject of a separate administrative process.

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For those who have questions regarding any media outlets being posted on this subreddit, please click here to review our details as to our approved domains list and outlet criteria. Every political appointee should be fired. This is outrageous.

Murphy’s inaction has largely been interpreted as a refusal by various anti- Trump elements, with the Washington Post penning a story on Murphy titled “A little-known Trump appointee is in charge of handing transition resources to Biden — and she isn’t budging.”

It’s unclear if USAGM will appeal Howell’s ruling given its timing and the likelihood that President-elect Biden is likely to replace Pack upon assuming the White House on Jan. 20. Biden’s aides have said he intends to fire Pack.

a sign on the side of a building: A general view of the Voice of America headquarters in Washington, D.C., on April 15. © Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via AP A general view of the Voice of America headquarters in Washington, D.C., on April 15.

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usr: 37
This is interesting!