By Matthew Lee, AP Diplomatic writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Sudden firing on the heads of three federally funded international broadcasters occurred late Friday night as the Biden administration completed the house cleaning of Donald Trump-Appointed at the Global Agency for US Media.
Two officials familiar with the changes said the acting chief of USAGM dismissed the directors of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting Networks a month after he was named to the positions.
The changes came a day after the Voice of America director and his deputy were removed and the head of Cuba Broadcasting stepped down. It was followed by Firangi following the forced resignation of former President Donald Trump’s electoral choice to lead the USAGM just two hours after assuming office on Wednesday.
Trump’s USAGM chief Michael Pack was accused by Democrats and others of trying to turn VOA and its sister network into pro-Trump machines. The pack hired all those who were fired in their positions on Thursday and Friday in December itself.
Both officials said USAGM acting CEO Kelu Chao fired Middle East Broadcasting Network director Victoria Coats, Radio Free Asia chief Stephen Yates and Radio Free Europe chief Ted Lipian in a Swift series late Friday. It was not immediately clear if any of those removed would try to counter his dismissal.
The White House on Wednesday appointed three-decade VOA veteran journalist Chao as the agency’s interim chief executive on Wednesday, shortly after demanding Pack’s resignation. Chao did not respond to phone calls seeking comment about his actions. Two officers familiar with the dismissal were not authorized to discuss personnel matters publicly and on the condition of anonymity.
Coats, Yates and Lipion, along with former VOA director Robert Reilly and former Cuban chief Jeffrey Shapiro, were all prominent conservatives who were chosen by the pack to believe Trump and other Republicans believed biased leadership in taxpayer-funded media outlets Was.
Reilly and his deputy Elizabeth Robbins were ousted after harsh criticism for demoting a VOA White House correspondent who tried to ask former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a question after a town hall event.
The pack created an uproar when they took over USAGM last year and fired the boards of all outlets under their control, along with the leadership of the personal broadcast network. The broadcaster’s actions were criticized and packaged the apprehension as jeopardizing the editorial’s prized editorial freedom, a conservative filmmaker and former aide to Trump’s onetime political strategist Steve Bannon, who aimed at Trump’s publicity machines American media outlets were to be commissioned.
Biden was expected to make major changes to the agency’s structure and management, and the pack’s immediate dismissal on opening day indicated that they would be coming sooner rather than later. The pack was not required to submit his resignation as his three-year term was created by the Congress and was not limited to the length of any particular administration.
VOA was founded during World War II and its Congressional Charter requires it to present independent news and information to international audiences.
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