voice of america
A reporter from the Voice of America during a rally by Iranian dissidents in New York City. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images)

America First: Bannon Ally Set to Halt Foreign Journalist Visas at Govt-Funded Voice of America


The U.S. government’s international broadcaster, Voice of America, is set to halt visa renewals for dozens of foreign journalists as recently confirmed Trump pick Michael Pack wastes no time in applying an America First policy to the poorly-ran U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

Pack, often described as an ally of former White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon, is reportedly refusing to renew the visas of “[d]ozens of foreign nationals working as journalists in the U.S. for Voice of America.”

Previous, globalist staff of Voice of America slammed the move, with Matt Armstrong, a former member of the governing board over the agency, commenting: “That is horrible.”

NPR, which spun the news as negative, is currently run by President Obama’s friend who previously headed Voice of America: John Lansing.

Voice of America broadcasts in 48 languages and is the largest U.S. based international broadcaster. It was founded initially as a part of the State Department in 1942, before moving to the U.S. Information Agency until absorption into the Clinton-established ‘International Broadcasting Bureau’, the current-day USAGM.

President Trump nominated Pack two years ago to lead the agency, but he was only confirmed by the Senate this June.

Prior to confirmation, VOA ran a number of pro-Beijing stories and pushed a narrative that not only positioned the misleading Chinese Communist Party’s coronavirus mortality rate as a success story, but employed a tone that was far removed from VOA’s mission, ‘VOA will represent America’.

A White House Statement in April stated:

“Journalists should report the facts, but VOA has instead amplified Beijing’s propaganda. This week, VOA called China’s Wuhan lockdown a successful “model” copied by much of the world—and then tweeted out video of the Communist government’s celebratory light show marking the quarantine’s alleged end.”

This rebuke of VOA was as jarring as it was necessary.

Up to $200 million of U.S. taxpayers money funds VOA annually in its mission of telling America’s story around the world. The mainstream media is well versed in taking its lead from the CCP, but the erroneous decisions being made at the taxpayer’s expense by VOA, presented a weak and dangerous America to a global audience.

The White House statement went on:

“The VOA created graphics with Communist government statistics to compare China’s Coronavirus death toll to America’s. As intelligence experts point out, there is simply no way to verify the accuracy of China’s numbers.”

The Coronavirus story is just one example of this pattern. Last year, VOA helped highlight the Twitter feed of Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif while he was issuing threats against the U.S. and sharing Russian anti-U.S. propaganda videos.

It is no wonder former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon labeled the VOA “a rotten fish top-to-bottom” and “totally consumed by the deep-state apparatus”.

The decision against renewing visas for foreign journalists follows a slew of actions taken by Pack to lead the USAGM in a new direction that focuses on putting America First.

In his first month in charge, he dismissed the directors of all the agency’s divisions: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Radio Free Asia; Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which oversees Radio and Television Martí; Middle East Broadcasting Networks, which runs Alhurra and Radio Sawa; and the Open Technology Fund.

In a recent memo to staffers, Pack committed himself to fully embracing the VOA charter and mission whilst making it clear that VOA must act as a “bulwark against foreign actors” namely China and Russia.

Founded in wartime as a means to communicate honest and reliable information to the citizens of its adversaries, VOA had bi-partisanship and nationalism at its heart.

What we are witnessing under the leadership of Pack is a VOA going back to its roots.

Nick Regan

Nick Regan is a 2020 National Pulse Writing Fellow

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