President Donald Trump has made clear his belief that the U.S. taxpayer-funded media outlet Voice of America is biased and even operates internationally against American interests.
That perception could change, however, as two top executives have announced their resignations shortly after a conservative Trump appointee was confirmed as the new head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the Washington Examiner reported.
The U.S. Senate confirmed filmmaker Michael Pack to the post, which involves oversight of Voice of America and other taxpayer-funded media enterprises, over the objections of Democrats who argued he is too partisan.
“Time for us to leave”
According to Politico, VOA Director Amanda Bennett and Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara announced their decision to step down in a letter delivered on Monday to the organization’s staff.
“It is time for us to leave you,” the pair wrote. “We depart with the gratitude and joy that has marked our time together, with a dedication to our mission and admiration for each one of you.”
While they referenced Pack, they declined any outright criticism, instead writing that he “swore before Congress to respect and honor the firewall that guarantees VOA’s independence, which in turn plays the single most important role in the stunning trust our audiences around the world have in us.”
Bennett and Sugawara promised VOA staff that “nothing about you, your passion, your mission or your integrity changes” with their departure.
“China’s very own propaganda”
Of course, the Trump administration has made it clear that a change is needed within the organization. A communications official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reportedly went so far as to accuse VOA of promoting foreign propaganda in its coverage.
Trump communications director Dan Scavino linked to a story about the entity’s coronavirus coverage in April with a tweet in which he declared that American taxpayers are “paying for China’s very own propaganda, via the U.S. Government funded Voice of America!”
In making his case for Pack’s confirmation, Trump called Voice of America’s coverage “disgusting” and the White House accused it of speaking “for authoritarian regimes” at taxpayer expense.
It is clear that with the addition of Pack and the exits of Bennett and Sugawara, the environment at Voice of America is changing.
Whether its coverage fundamentally shifts remains to be seen, but Trump’s supporters might argue it couldn’t get much worse than it has already been for years.