The acting director of Voice of America was reassigned on Tuesday as part of a likely broader bid to install loyalists for President Trump in the news agency before the Biden administration takes office, two people familiar with the decision said.
Michael Pack, the executive director of the outlet’s parent agency, the US Agency for Global Media, and a conservative filmmaker with ties to former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, announced to acting director Elez Biberaj earlier Tuesday that he would be removed from his role.
Mr. Biberaj will return to his previous role as Director of the Eurasia Desk at Voice of America. An official said that Robert R. Reilly, a Conservative writer who was the director of Voice of America in the Bush administration, would likely succeed Mr. Biberaj.
Mr. Biberaj, who has been with Voice of America for over 40 years, was named acting director in June. His reassignment was first reported by NPR.
As head of the United States Global Media Agency, Mr. Pack oversees federally funded news agencies such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
Upon his appointment, he quickly fired the heads of the four news agencies and a nonprofit internet technology that was under his oversight. He also replaced the bipartisan board that oversees the organizations with allies of the Trump administration.
In October, Mr Pack said he was lifting a firewall rule protecting government-funded news outlets, including Voice of America, from federal tampering. A lawsuit filed by five officers suspended by Mr. Pack alleged that Mr. Pack or his aides interrogated Voice of America journalists who criticized Mr. Pack. A federal judge recently ruled that Mr. Pack’s attempts to break through the firewall were unconstitutional.
Mr Biberaj did not openly criticize Mr Pack, but he did exhibit Statements in the last few months “Editorial independence and journalistic integrity without political interference are the core elements that make V.O.A. and make us America’s voice. “
His likely successor, Mr. Reilly, has written against Islam and gay rights and published a book entitled “Making Gay Okay: How the Rationalization of Homosexual Behavior Changes Everything”.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is likely to replace Mr. Pack when he takes office. However, it may be more difficult to remove Mr. Reilly if the language of the National Defense Authorization Act, a House-approved defense spending bill, is incorporated into law requiring the executive director of the U.S. Global Media Agency to approve one before replacing it The head of a media network under their responsibility must obtain advice.