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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who was nominated by Donald Trump to lead the government's foreign media arm, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), left the agency Wednesday at the request of President Biden.

Why it matters: Pack's eight-month tenure was filled with controversy. Most recently, he was accused of fraud, as well as misuse of office. Observers and whistleblowers have alleged throughout his tenure that he was abusing his power in an attempt to transform the agency into a pro-Trump propaganda arm.

Details: Pack's actions, including abruptly firing the heads of the agencies he oversaw and withholding funds from nonprofits he managed — among other controversies — drew serious bipartisan backlash from Capitol Hill.

The big picture: USAGM, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, oversees five government-funded media arms that are intended to promote democracy around the world via factual reporting. It is also responsible for funding the Open Technology Fund, an internet freedom nonprofit.

  • The most famous of the five agencies it oversees is Voice of America, which was created nearly 80 years ago to combat Nazi propaganda during WWII. It also manages Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting Network.

What they're saying: "The U.S. Agency for Global Media's mission is to further press and internet freedom around the world," said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). "In conjunction with the Open Technology Fund, the agency has a track record of success in providing internet access and other vital support to those in China, Iran, Russia and other authoritarian countries.

  • I hope the next CEO will focus on expanding the agency's efforts around the world to promote a free and open press," McCaul, who has long been critical of Pack added.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
40 mins ago - Technology

Epic's long game against Apple

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Epic's Apple lawsuit is costing the company dearly, but the game developer has its eye on a valuable long-term goal: prying tomorrow's virtual worlds loose from the grip of app store proprietors like Apple.

Between the lines: Epic isn't spending a fortune in legal fees and foregoing a ton of revenue just to shave some costs off in-app purchases on today's phones. Rather, it's planning for a future of creating virtual universes via augmented and virtual reality — without having to send a big chunk of their economies to Apple or Google.

Updated 45 mins ago - Health

The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Slow global COVID-19 vaccination rates are raising concerns that worse variants of the coronavirus could be percolating, ready to rip into the world before herd immunity can diminish their impact.

Why it matters: The U.S. aims to at least partially vaccinate 70% of adults by July 4, a move expected to accelerate the current drop of new infections here. But variants are the wild card, and in a global pandemic where only about 8% of all people have received one dose, the virus will continue mutating unabated.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Democrats are still looking for a plan on drug prices

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Democrats have no workable plan to tackle the cost of prescription drugs, even with full control of Washington and after campaigning on the issue for years.

The picture: Voters still care about the cost of drugs, but Democrats don't have a feasible legislative strategy yet — or an agreed-upon policy to fit into a legislative strategy.