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 McConnellCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs 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 BannonFBI investigating Chinese media tycoon linked to Bannon: report Mueller investigation witness George Nader sentenced to a decade in prison in child sex case Biden would fire Trump appointee leading US media agency for 'hijacking' outlet 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.