USAGM Watch Commentary

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has asked for waiving the mandatory quorum call on the nomination of Michael Pack to become CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Senator McConnell’s move may advance the final confirmation vote for Pack in the U.S. Senate.

Earlier, Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by Ranking Member Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) had opposed sending Pack’s nomination to the full Senate, but committee chairman Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) and Republican members by majority vote expressed approval for his confirmation to go forward. The vote on Michael Pack in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was along party lines.

Multiple management and programming scandals have been reported in recent years at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, previously known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). They were especially frequent and serious at the Voice of America (VOA) under executives appointed during the Obama administration. Some of them, including VOA Director Amanda Bennett, are still in charge. Federal surveys show record low levels of morale among agency employees. The Trump administration in its third year has so far no key executives at VOA or within the agency’s bureaucracy in Washington.

The current VOA management team under Bennett’s leadership has alienated Iranian-American and Chinese-American communities by allowing VOA to repeat propaganda from authoritarian regimes in Iran and China. Bennett strongly denies these charges. President Trump spoke critically about VOA’s current management and the White House issued highly critical statements.

A key aide to former CEO who was appointed during the previous administration and resigned last year, was sent to prison for stealing money from the agency. A vote in the Senate on Pack’s nomination is now expected.

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