• Voice of America's director and assistant director resign
• White House April 10 newsletter falsely accused VOA of using taxpayer dollars to "promote foreign propaganda"
• Two miserably failed right-wing filmmakers are taking control of VOA, four months before the 2020 election, and they're bringing Sebastian Gorka in. What could possibly go wrong?
Two top officials at Voice of America have resigned after Trump's pick for CEO Michael Pack took over the federally funded international news network.
Behind the scenes, Steve Bannon is said to be more or less taking charge of VOA now, and just in time for the 2020 U.S. elections, if they even happen.
CNN reports that "a well-placed VOA employee said there are internal discussions about a sizable shakeup coming to the agency that may include former White House official and conservative radio host Sebastian Gorka taking on a leadership position."
VOA director Amanda Bennett and deputy director Sandy Sugawara, both veteran journalists, bid farewell to the staff on Monday morning.
Referencing Pack, they said, "as the Senate-confirmed CEO, he has the right to replace us with his own VOA leadership. 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."
Some journalists at VOA fear that Pack — best known for making films with a conservative bent -- will interfere with the organization's independent newsroom and turn it into a pro-Trump messaging machine.
Trump has repeatedly railed against VOA and accused it of disseminating Chinese propaganda — charges that Bennett strongly denied.
In Monday's memo, Bennett and Sugawara reiterated some of the same points. "Nothing about you, your passion, your mission or your integrity changes," they wrote. "Michael Pack 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. We know that each one of you will offer him all of your skills, your professionalism, your dedication to mission, your journalistic integrity and your personal hard work to guarantee that promise is fulfilled."
Monday's resignations renewed concerns that Pack, an ally of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, will attempt to clean house at VOA, which is part of the US Agency for Global Media, USAGM for short.
V.O.A. Directors Resign After Bannon Ally Takes Charge of U.S. Media Agency https://t.co/jFMMwE6Wnz
— Anita Chabria (@anitachabria) June 15, 2020
@abennett has led @VOANews with distinction and a strong commitment to balanced, compelling coverage and to the VOA journalists, many of whom work in challenging, dangerous places. She will be sorely missed. https://t.co/XybXgYvSC0
— Kathleen Carroll (@kathleencarrll) June 15, 2020
This is going to be a telegraphed slow-burn rather than a big bang, it would seem. https://t.co/XK9J450y7O
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) June 15, 2020
VOA has long served markets where media freedom is lacking. Now, its leadership resigns amid attacks from the White House. If you don't read anything else today, read this: https://t.co/m1pTevjUtI
— Sara Schonhardt (@saraschonhardt) June 15, 2020