Biden ousts controversial head of US Agency for Global Media

Biden ousts controversial head of US Agency for Global Media
© YouTube/USAGM

Michael Pack, the controversial CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), has resigned from his post. 

USAGM said in a statement on Thursday that Pack resigned Wednesday after being notified by the Biden administration that he would be removed. 

President Biden has nominated Kelu Chao, a veteran journalist who served as program director for Voice of America (VOA), as acting CEO until a permanent replacement is confirmed by the Senate. 

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In his resignation letter, Pack said he was “solely focused upon reorienting the agency toward its missions,” according to NPR.

Pack further slammed the request for his resignation as a “partisan act,” adding that the agency’s leadership is “meant to be non-partisan, untethered to alternations in the political regime.” 

Pack, a conservative filmmaker, was confirmed by the Senate in June and his months-long tenure at the agency was marked by intense controversy and scrutiny over his actions, with critics accusing him of politicizing the agency and carrying out acts of retribution against staff he accused of having an anti-Trump bias. 
 
A federal judge ruled in November that Pack was unconstitutionally interfering and investigating the broadcasts under his authority, including VOA and its partner networks, saying the CEO was violating journalists' First Amendment rights. NPR reported that Pack spent $2 million of taxpayer funds on investigations of journalists under the banner of the U.S. Agency for Global Media over claims of bias.
 
He entered the role under investigation by the District Attorney for the District of Columbia, which filed suit earlier this month against Pack's nonprofit film company Public Media Lab, for funneling millions of dollars to Pack's for-profit production company Manifold productions.
 
Pack drew fire from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike for ignoring a subpoena to testify before a House panel over several controversies, including his widespread firings of the heads of multiple broadcast agencies and halting funds for the U.S. Open Technology Fund. 
 
Alberto Miguel Fernandez, whom Pack fired from his post as head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, said on Twitter “hey, that Biden guy ain’t all bad!” in response to Pack's forced resignation.
 

Pack’s leadership over USAGM is also marked by a tense relationship with VOA, which often found itself in the spotlight. Most recently, a group of VOA employees filed a whistleblower complaint protesting against allowing then-President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE's secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoTrump administration mulled kidnapping, assassinating Julian Assange: report Republican lawmakers raise security, privacy concerns over Huawei cloud services WashPost fact-checker gives Pompeo four 'Pinocchios' for 'zombie' claim about Obama Iran deal MORE to give a speech broadcast on hundreds of the agency's networks around the world, alleging Pompeo's remarks amounted to propaganda for the Trump administration. 

VOA's White House correspondent was later demoted following her questioning of Pompeo after the speech. 
 
The Hill's Laura Kelly contributed.