Two top editors at the U.S. government-funded Voice of America (VOA) resigned Monday following the Senate’s approval of President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE’s appointee for the federal agency that oversees the news outlet.
Director Amanda Bennett and Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara submitted their resignations ahead of Michael Pack's arrival to run the independent news organization, which began broadcasting in 1942. Pack is a conservative filmmaker and supporter of the president.
VOA has been under attack in recent months, with the White House accusing it of promoting Chinese propaganda in its COVID-19 pandemic coverage.
“Journalists should report the facts, but VOA has instead amplified Beijing’s propaganda," a message on the White House website read in April. "This week, VOA called China’s Wuhan lockdown a successful ‘model’ copied by much of the world—and then tweeted out video of the Communist government’s celebratory light show marking the quarantine’s alleged end.”
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request revealed on Sunday that an email from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instructed its communications staff not to reply to media requests from VOA.
The FOIA request for the CDC email came from the Knight First Amendment Institute, with one email specifically referring to former cable news host and current Grey TV host Greta Van Susteren.
“NOTE: as a rule, do not send up requests for Greta Van [Susteren] or anyone affiliated with Voice of America,” the warning stated.
Bennett, 67, whose prior stints included editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Lexington Herald-Leader newspapers, did not specifically indicate Pack was the reason for her or Sugawara's departure.
“Efforts such as those outlined in the CDC memo can result in the kind of chilling effect on our journalism that we regularly see in the markets we broadcast to that have no free press,” Bennett wrote over the weekend.
Trump nominated Pack in June 2018 to be the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which at one time was referred to as the Broadcasting Board of Governors.