Michael Pack as the new director of the U.S. Global Media Agency (USAGM) caused a stir in the media, making layoffs and drastic changes in the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and the rest of the agency now under his charge.
Pack is reviewing visas for foreign journalists linked to USAGM and also making adjustments to policies emanating from Washington, which would signal concern in the United States about the censorship and misinformation the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is accused of.
He sought possible counterattack measures, according to the South China Morning Post on July 23.
“It was clear that a clean start was required,” Pack wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Post on July 8.
The mission of the USAGM Policy Office is to produce—as stated in the International Broadcasting Act—”editorials, broadcast by the Voice of America, that present the views of the United States Government.”
The Voice of America (VOA) Charter itself states that the VOA will not only “present the policies of the United States in a clear and effective manner’, but also ‘present a balanced and comprehensive projection of important American thought and institutions.”
However, the House of Representatives seeks to exercise more control to limit the influence of the Trump administration by seeking greater editorial independence, which is what the term “firewall” refers to.
“The recent actions of the USAGM CEO … raise serious questions about the agency’s commitment to maintaining the firewall and upholding the highest standards of professional journalism,” the Appropriations Committee report said.
Complaints were sent to the Voice of America from the Trump administration, because it apparently followed a reporting line that replicated messages emanating from the CCP.
Examples include echoing a celebration in Wuhan for the end of its quarantine and the dissemination of data on the infections and deaths generated by the CCP Virus in China, described as false from Washington.
“In the midst of a pandemic, the Voice of America spends its money to promote foreign propaganda,” the White House reported on April 10. President Donald Trump later called the media “disgusting.”
Radio Free Asia, with its Uighur language service, was the first media outlet in the world to expose the mass internment of Uighurs and other minority Muslim ethnic groups in camps in China, according to South China Morning Post.
It also helped expose the false official statistics of the CCP Virus in China, and it investigated the veracity of other facts by calling funeral homes and counting how many urns were being returned to families.
Pack also gave relevance to the editorials, given the role they are called to play.
“For decades since the Cold War, VOA publishers have successfully served our country’s national interest by spreading the ideal of free speech and other human rights to millions of individuals in closed regimes,” Pack said, according to USAGM.
USAGM has five media outlets covering an audience of about 400 million people, with a budget provided by the U.S. Department of State.