Lowey, Engel Statement on New USAGM CEO's Firing of Senior Officials, Disbanding of Advisory Boards

June 18, 2020
Press Release

Lowey, Engel: “…we have deep concerns that he takes the helm of a critical agency with the intent to prioritize the Trump administration’s political whims over protecting and promoting independent reporting, which is a pillar of freedom and democracy.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Eliot L. Engel, Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, issued the following statement on reports that Trump Appointee and new CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) Michael Pack fired senior officials and dissolved advisory boards of government-sponsored broadcast networks for foreign audiences:

“We were outraged to learn that Michael Pack, the new head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, fired top officials of broadcast networks for foreign audiences in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and replaced their advisory boards with new boards comprising himself, his chief of staff, Trump Administration appointees, and the senior counsel of an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

“That Mr. Pack took this drastic measure in his first week on the job is shocking, and we have deep concerns that he takes the helm of a critical agency with the intent to prioritize the Trump administration’s political whims over protecting and promoting independent reporting, which is a pillar of freedom and democracy.

“Indeed, the administration pulls America further from democratic values every day. Whether intimidating and using violent force against peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights, enabling discriminatory practices against American citizens, refusing to seriously address civil rights, or dangerously mismanaging and misleading citizens about the continued threat of COVID-19, it is clear that this president and many of his senior political appointees do not prioritize American values.

“Undermining free and fair press and chilling the organization charged with providing audiences around the world with balanced, independent reporting does nothing to promote these values.

“We take seriously our role in providing oversight of the U.S. Agency for Global Media and in ensuring it is adequately resourced to fulfill its mandate in providing independent reporting around the globe.

“To the hardworking USAGM staff: Know that we appreciate the work you have done with integrity and focus on USAGM’s mission. We expect Mr. Pack to do the same and he must be held to account.”

 

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