Trump-appointed Voice of America chief resigns hours after Biden sworn in

Trump-appointed Voice of America chief resigns hours after Biden sworn in

The head of Voice of America and other taxpayer-funded media operations handed in his resignation hours into President Biden’s term.

Michael Pack, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in June to serve as the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA, submitted his resignation Wednesday after being told he would be removed from the role by the Biden administration. Others affiliated with Pack have also been removed from the organization in a post-Trump restructuring, according to the agency.

“I firmly believe that — thanks to your support, patriotism, and understanding — a great amount of much-needed reform was achieved in the past eight months,” Pack said in a Wednesday letter to staff. “USAGM and the CEO position are meant to be non-partisan. As such, every single day, I was solely focused upon reorienting the agency toward its mission. I sought, above all, to help the agency share America’s story with the world objectively and without bias.”

Pack was eight months into his three-year term at the helm of the agency and made waves when he was confirmed by the Senate for his desire to change VOA and other outlets. Pack characterized the personnel changes that followed his appointment, which included management replacements and resignations, as making the government-funded outlet less partisan while detractors accused him of trying to build a pro-Trump media sphere, according to the Washington Post.

Longtime agency journalist Kelu Chao was appointed to take over Pack’s job in an interim capacity, and on Thursday, it was revealed that VOA executive director Robert Reilly and deputy director Elizabeth Robbins have also been relieved of their duties. They have been replaced by acting director Yolanda Lopez, and Brian Conniff was picked for deputy director.

“The incoming team is composed of long-standing veterans of U.S. international broadcasting,” the agency said in a statement. “Kelu Chao has served for nearly 40 years at VOA having risen through the ranks from an intern, field reporter, editor, Mandarin service chief, East Asia division director, and acting VOA director, to her current position as VOA program director.”

It was alleged in a whistleblower complaint filed this week that Pack, a former activist and documentary filmmaker who previously worked with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, spent up to $2 million in taxpayer revenue to compile dossiers on employees at agency outlets, which include VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, among others.

The Washington Examiner reached out to the White House for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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