Saturday, January 9, 2021

Voice of America Employees Protest Pompeo Speech

Staffers at Voice of America, the government-funded international news organization, have filed a whistleblower complaint raising concerns about an upcoming address by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying it would be risky for them to gather at the agency’s headquarters amid the coronavirus pandemic and that orders to broadcast his speech amount to promoting “propaganda,” reports The Washington Post.

In a letter to Michael Pack, the Trump appointee who heads VOA’s parent agency, the employees wrote that the planned speech “endangers public health and safety, violates law, rule and regulation and grossly wastes government resources.”

The complaint is the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle among current and former employees of VOA and Pack, a conservative former documentary filmmaker who runs the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA and four other international news networks.

Since his appointment in June, Pack has fired longtime managers and installed a cadre of loyalists while asserting the right to dictate news coverage, despite legal requirements prohibiting it.

The agencies, which include Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia, were set up by the federal government decades ago to provide independent news reporting and commentary to countries in which authoritarian governments suppress free speech and the news media.

Pompeo is scheduled to address VOA employees at its headquarters in Washington on Monday afternoon. According to a staff announcement sent Friday, Pompeo will address “the continuing importance of our work given emerging threats to the values and interests of the United States.” VOA Director Robert Reilly will conduct a question-and-answer session with Pompeo afterward.

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