WASHINGTON – A group of Voice of America reporters has signed a letter demanding the resignation of VOA director and his deputy, accusing him of “for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo” and ” Suddenly the network used “to spread the hype” for the unexplained “revaluation” of the chief news editor and White House correspondent.
Journalists said VOA director Robert Reilly and deputy director Elizabeth Robbins violated the network’s decades-old charter, stating that US-funded outlets do not speak for the US government, according to a letter obtained by NBC News.
Reilly and Robbins were recently founded by Michael Pack, the appointment of President Donald Trump, who operates the parent agency, which oversees VOA’s US agency Global Media.
The letter was sent to Paik, Reilly, and Robbins and has been signed by two dozen journalists out of VOA’s nearly 1,000 employees so far.
On Monday at the network’s headquarters in Washington, Pompeo delivered a live speech at VOA, expanding the virtues of America’s independent press and accusing the service of having negative coverage in the past. According to the letter and journalists who spoke to NBC News, broadcasters’ reporters were barred from asking questions and external media were not allowed to participate.
Pompeo “used this opportunity to try to direct VOA journalists to prevent significant coverage of the United States,” and Reilly, who was on stage with the Secretary of State, “did not challenge them – our A Disagreement for International Audiences, ”Letters. said.
White House correspondent Patty Vidakuswara, a VOA journalist, tried to ask Pompeo questions after his speech. NBC News previously reported that hours later, he was ordered to the White House beat.
According to the letter, Vidakuswara tried to ask Pompeo about America’s image abroad after last week’s storm of the Capitol, Riley shouted at him: “‘You obviously don’t know how to behave. .. you’re out of order! ‘ “
Journalists condemned Reilly’s response. “Let us be clear: It is not out of order for VOA journalists to question US government officials. It is our job.”
According to the letter, Wilbusuwara was killed in the White House hours after the incident by Robbins, who recently worked for Pompeo and had “no journalistic experience”.
VOA declined to comment, and the agency for global media did not respond to requests for comment.
The letter states that Vidakuswara’s assurance sends a threatening message to every VOA journalist that they will be punished if they ask important questions.
The letter stated, “Voice of America was founded with the belief that all countries are entitled to honest and credible news without the mediation of their governments. Unfortunately, Monday’s events have shaken that foundation.” The letter said.
VOA was established during World War II with the mission of reporting on events for foreign audiences in the US. The Agency for Global Media is the parent of many foreign language broadcasting services for Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Cuba that have a large international audience.
Since Paik took office at the agency last year, he fired senior officials and the governing board, refused to renew visas for dozens of foreign journalists and faced reprimand from Congress and a federal judge. Press freedom groups and lawmakers have accused him of trying to turn government-funded media outlets into a mouthpiece of propaganda for President Donald Trump.
Pack has dismissed the criticism, stating that he is returning the network to its original mission and that some of the previous coverage was politically biased.
It is not clear why PACS has changed key personnel just days before a new administration takes charge. President-Elect Joe Biden’s team has made it clear that it plans to fire the pack.
They seem to be “trying to kindle the place when it goes out”, said a VOA journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity by the network’s management for fear of reprisal.