Jun 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Top Voice of America officials resign after confirmation of Trump appointee


Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Voice of America Director Amanda Bennett and Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara both resigned from their posts at the state-sponsored international news agency after the confirmation of a Trump political appointee to VOA's parent agency, Deadline reports.

The big picture: The reshuffle follows an onslaught of public attacks from the White House, which has accused VOA of promoting Chinese propaganda in its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. An email from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released after a freedom of information request told communications staff not to respond to media requests from VOA.

  • In April, President Trump threatened to force Congress into a formal recess so that he could make recess appointments, demanding that the Senate confirm his nominee for CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the independent agency in charge of VOA.
  • Senate Republicans voted last week to confirm Michael Pack to the position. Pack, a conservative filmmaker, has received criticism from Senate Democrats for his business history and his ties to Steve Bannon.

Between the lines: Some Democrats fear that with the installment of a top political appointee, VOA could become a propaganda arm for the Trump administration — though journalists within the agency deny that charge.

Go deeper: VOA journalists fight claims that it is Trump propaganda

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