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GOP lawmaker calls on Senate to confirm Michael Pack as head of US media agency

GOP lawmaker calls on Senate to confirm Michael Pack as head of US media agency
© Greg Nash

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) is calling for the Senate to confirm conservative documentary filmmaker Michael Pack to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees the Voice of America and other U.S. government-funded international broadcasters. 

In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal Top GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell: COVID-19 relief will be added to omnibus spending package Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday, Banks said that he believes Pack will help guide the news entities under USAGM to “provide factual news coverage to all people,” especially those who wouldn’t have access to it otherwise and “promote stories that positively portray our values—especially in relation to authoritarianism.”

The call comes as Pack's nomination has been strongly opposed by Democrats amid concerns that he will erode the independence of agencies such as Voice of America. Pack has collaborated on movies with former senior Trump adviser Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonFlynn spurs questions of who Trump might pardon next Juan Williams: Obama's dire warnings about right-wing media Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight MORE and has ties with conservative groups. 

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Banks — one of the House’s most vocal China hawks — noted that China has committed $6.6 billion toward globally pushing propaganda that benefits its interests. 

He argued that the United States needs someone who understands the complexities of U.S.-China relations and can counter disinformation spread by adversaries, qualifications he believes Pack possesses. 

“Even while our soft power competition rapidly and one-sidedly intensifies, our state-owned media has declined to re-emphasize a bold defense of America's values. It’s our belief that Michael Pack understands U.S.-China relations and will use his position accordingly,” he wrote.   

“The interests of the United States are best served if people around the world receive accurate, impartial information about COVID-19," he added. "To that end, USAGM should aggressively counteract Chinese Communist Party propaganda.” 

Banks said Pack would be the right candidate to reform media agencies likes Voice of America to accomplish that goal, citing his experience at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Council on Humanities. 

“His experience in public broadcasting is undeniable as is his familiarity with the American political landscape. From 2015 to 2017 he was the president and CEO of the Claremont Institute. The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the importance of his immediate confirmation,” he said.

Pack’s nomination passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee along party lines late last month.