The acting director of Voice of America was reassigned on Tuesday, as part of what is likely a broader offer to install President Trump’s followers in the media before the Biden administration takes over, two said. people close to the decision.
Michael Pack, the managing director of the outlet’s parent agency, the US Agency for Global Media, and a conservative filmmaker linked to former Trump adviser Stephen K. Banon, told Acting Director Elez Biberaj, earlier Tuesday that he would be removed from his post. of his role.
Mr. Biberaj will return to his former role as Eurasia office manager at Voice of America. An official said Robert R. Reilly, a conservative author who was the director of Voice of America in the Bush administration, was likely to succeed Biberaj.
Mr. Biberaj, who has worked at Voice of America for more than 40 years, was appointed interim director in June.
As head of the US Agency for World Media, Mr. Pack oversees federally funded news outlets including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
Once appointed, he quickly removed the heads of the four news organizations and an internet technology nonprofit under his tutelage from office. It also replaced the bipartisan council that oversees organizations with allies in the Trump administration.
In October, Mr Pack said he was rolling back a firewall rule that protected government-funded news outlets, including Voice of America, from federal tampering. A lawsuit brought by five officials suspended by Mr. Pack claimed that Mr. Pack or his associates interviewed Voice of America reporters who criticized Mr. Pack. A federal judge recently ruled that Mr. Pack’s attempts to breach the firewall were unconstitutional.
Mr Biberaj has not openly criticized Mr Pack, but he has issued statements in recent months saying that “editorial independence and journalistic integrity without political interference are the fundamental elements that support VOA and make us the voice from America”.
His likely successor, Mr. Reilly, wrote against Islam and gay rights, publishing a book titled “Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is likely to replace Mr Pack once he takes office, agency officials said. But Mr Reilly might be more difficult to remove if the wording of the National Defense Authorization Act, a defense spending bill passed by the House, is signed into a law that requires the CEO to the United States Agency for the World Media to obtain the approval of an advisory board before replacing it. at the head of a network of media under their jurisdiction.