Voice of America journalists demand director’s resignation over Pompeo event

A group of journalists from Voice of America (VOA) are demanding that VOA Director Robert Reilly and Deputy Director Elizabeth Robbins resign, alleging they had used the news network “to stage a propaganda event” for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo NBC News reports.

In the letter obtained by NBC News, the journalists also cited the “sudden and unexplained reassignments of White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara and Central News Director Yolanda Lopez” as reasons for the news agency’s leadership to resign.

Pompeo gave his first address on Monday since an angry mob attacked the Capitol, endangering lawmakers, staff, Capitol police and journalists in the building.

The secretary of State didn’t mention the event in his speech, but spoke of VOA’s mission to promote America’s ideals. He also criticized the organization for “demeaning America.”

Pompeo’s speech drew outrage from VOA employees who said Pompeo had used it to “disseminate political propaganda in the waning days of the Trump administration.”

Widakuswara was removed from her position as senior White House correspondent by Robbins just hours after Pompeo made his address.

In their letter, the VOA journalists note that Widakuswara was “shouted at” by Reilly after she asked a question.

Reilly reportedly shouted, “You obviously don’t know how to behave… you are out of order” at Widakuswara.

“Just hours later, Ms Robbins, a person with no journalistic experience who as recently as last month worked for Secretary Pompeo, ordered Ms. Widakuswara reassigned from her position as White House Correspondent — a job Ms. Widakuswara has carried out with integrity for the past two years,” the journalists wrote in their letter.

“Voice of America was founded upon the belief that all countries deserve honest and reliable news without the meddling of their governments. Unfortunately, Monday’s events have shaken this foundation,” they wrote.

When reached for response to the letter, a VOA spokesperson said, “The Voice of America does not comment on internal personnel matters.”

Tags democracy promotion Mike Pompeo Mike Pompeo State Department Voice of America
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