VOA reinstates White House reporter reassigned after questioning Pompeo
Voice of America has reinstated its White House reporter, who was taken off the beat after attempting to question former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Patsy Widakuswara’s reinstatement comes a day after President Biden asked for the resignation of Michael Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
“Happy prof. news, I’m back to cover the WH for @voanews. My reassignment on Jan. 11 after I pushed to question Mike Pompeo on the Capitol riots has been canceled, following the change of leadership,” Widakuswara wrote on Twitter.
Happy prof. news, I’m back to cover the WH for @voanews.
My reassignment on Jan. 11 after I pushed to question Mike Pompeo on the Capitol riots has been canceled, following the change of leadership in @USAGMgov, incl. VOA Dir. Robert Reilly & Dep. Dir. Elizabeth Robbins.
— Patsy Widakuswara (@pwidakuswara) January 22, 2021
The agency had a chaotic four years under former President Trump, with at least 20 VOA employees filing for whistleblower protections after fighting changes at the agency.
That pushback came to a head earlier this month when some reporters protested the live broadcast of a speech by Pompeo at the outlet’s headquarters.
Reporters were not allowed to ask questions at the event, and many viewed the broadcast as a form of propaganda.
During the speech, Pompeo touted “American exceptionalism” and criticized VOA for a lack of positive coverage of the administration.
“It’s not fake news for you to broadcast that this is the greatest nation the world has ever known,” Pompeo said on the broadcast.
“I’m not saying ignore our faults. Acknowledge them. But this isn’t the Vice of America, focusing on everything that’s wrong with our great nation. It certainly isn’t the place to give authoritarian regimes in Beijing or Tehran a platform.”
After the event, Widakuswara sought to question Pompeo as he was exiting their headquarters. She was subsequently taken off the White House beat.
Pack, a conservative filmmaker, and Robert Reilly, VOA’s director, both exited the agency on Wednesday.
Pack in particular resigned “after being informed by the Biden Administration that he would be removed,” the agency said in a statement.
“I hope this ends the turmoil in our agency,” Widakuswara said on Twitter. “We are excited [to] go back to covering the news the way @VOANews always have — comprehensively, with accuracy and balance. These standards we will protect and apply, no matter who is in office.”
Reached for comment, VOA said only that they could confirm Widakuswara was back on the White House beat.