Judge Slaps Down Trump Appointee Who Has Sought To Reshape Voice of America and Related Agencies

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A federal judge issued a series of preliminary injunctions against a Trump appointee who has enacted sweeping and controversial changes at Voice of America and other government-funded news networks, effectively stopping the appointee’s efforts to reshape the international broadcasters.

The ruling late Friday by Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell in Washington was a setback for Michael Pack, who in June took over VOA’s parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), and immediately set about firing senior leaders and disbanding oversight boards.

Pack had asserted the right to direct how journalists at VOA and sister networks such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia covered the news, a violation of the traditional “firewall” that ensures the networks aren’t government mouthpieces. Pack’s declaration was viewed by journalists at the networks as both alarming and ironic, given that their broadcasts — which are intended to counter foreign government’s official censorship and propaganda — would themselves be subjected to potential censorship by a political appointee of the U.S. government.

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