House Democrat calls on US media agency head to testify about firings

House Democrat calls on US media agency head to testify about firings
© Greg Nash

The Democratic chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is calling for the new head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) to testify before lawmakers following a purge of senior staff at the department he oversees. 

Michael Pack, President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE’s pick to lead the congressionally-funded media agency, has drawn criticism from Democrats who say his appointment threatens the independence and compromises the credibility of the government-funded international broadcasters.

Pack dismissed last week the heads of three international broadcast networks for Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the head of an internet freedom grantee organization, and came under fire from both Democrats and conservative commentators. 

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“The law requires that American international broadcasting be independent from influence by any administration official—including the CEO,” Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHuffPost reporter discusses progressives' successful showing on Tuesday Ex-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets Progressives soaring after big primary night MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a statement.  

The chairman criticized Pack for appointing “right-wing ideologues and Trump loyalists,” specifically highlighting Jonathan Alexandre, who is reported to be on the board of Radio Free Asia and expected to be a corporate board member of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, CNBC reported.  

Alexandre is senior counsel for Governmental Affairs at Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action, a Christian ministry and advocacy organization for religious freedom that argues against protections for the LGBTQ community and is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

“Mr. Pack should explain to the Committee and the American people his vision for the agency, the reason for terminating so many senior staff all at once, and his other initial actions as CEO,” Engel said in his statement.

The Hill reached out to the USAGM for comment.