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 TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president 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. 


“The law requires that American international broadcasting be independent from influence by any administration official—including the CEO,” Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelDemocrats call on Blinken to set new sexual misconduct policies at State Department Lawmakers on hot mic joke 'aisle hog' Engel absent from Biden address: 'He'd wait all day' Bowman to deliver progressive response to Biden's speech to Congress 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.