Suspended Workers of US Agency for Global Media Sue New CEO Alleging Pro-Trump Agenda
REUTERS / BRIDGET BENNETTUS13:25 GMT 09.10.2020(updated 13:26 GMT 09.10.2020) Get short URL
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Five suspended media workers have filed a lawsuit against their former employer, US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), accusing the new leadership of having a pro-Trump agenda.
The lawsuit is primarily directed at newly-appointed CEO Michael Pack, accusing his team of routinely violating the editorial “firewall” that guarantees newsroom independence at outlets it funds, namely Voice of America (VoA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The lawsuit accuses the Trump appointee of “insidious politicisation of journalism” and cites numerous examples of USAGM exerting pressure on journalists and editors to cover stories favourably toward the US president.
The lawsuit details examples of Pack and his close adviser, Samuel Dewey, reprimanding reporters for not falling in line with the narratives pushed by Trump. The leadership also stalled on funding for foreign bureaus, forcing bureau chiefs to terminate agreements with contractors and nearly delay salaries, the lawsuit alleges.
David Kligerman, who was removed from his position as general counsel of the agency by Pack, told NPR that the lawsuit was not a political issue but one of the journalistic principles.
The USAGM served as a tool for media diplomacy during the Cold War, broadcasting Western values and reporting to countries without a free press. The federally funded outlets claim independence from political pressure from Washington through the so-called firewall and often report critically on US officials and policy.