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The Voice of America building in Washington The Voice of America building in Washington, June 15, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Is Voice of America Becoming the Voice of Trump?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

It was a “Wednesday night massacre,” as one former U.S. official told CNN, when an appointee of President Donald Trump fired the heads of multiple government-funded media outlets. Conservative documentary filmmaker Michael Pack took over last month as the head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media after a two-year confirmation process in the Senate, and one of his first actions after taking office was to sweep out the directors and advisory boards of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and the Open Technology Fund. The two directors of the USAGM’s flagship network, Voice of America, had resigned following Pack’s confirmation.

The shakeup has raised questions about whether the news outlets that are under the USAGM, which have a long tradition of editorial independence, might become a political messaging arm of the Trump administration. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman discusses these concerns with David Ensor, a former VOA director who now heads the Project for Media and National Security at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. Click here to read a transcript of an excerpt from the interview.

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Relevant Articles on WPR:
With the U.S. Backsliding, Who Will Defend Democracy in the World?
Under Trump, the U.S. Has Become an Irresponsible Stakeholder
The World Is Getting Messier. It’s Not All Trump’s Fault

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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