US foreign broadcasters get new chiefs under Biden | News | DW | 25.01.2021
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US foreign broadcasters get new chiefs under Biden

After the Trump-era Voice of America chief was forced out, the Biden administration named new directors for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

Radio Free Europe logo at the broadcaster's Prague headquarters

Daisy Sindelar will be the acting president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

US authorities named new leaders of three federally-funded international broadcasters on Sunday, after firing the appointees of the Donald Trump administration.

Kelu Chao, the acting CEO of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), said the broadcasters "now have leadership that will promote democracy and other American values abroad."

"I have great faith in these leaders in ensuring the highest standards of independent, objective, and professional journalism," she said.

Chao dismissed the directors of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) late Friday.

Who are the new directors?

Daisy Sindelar will be the acting president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, replacing Ted Lipien until a permanent president is named.

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Bay Fang returns to her post as president of Radio Free Asia, taking over from Stephen Yates.

Kelley Sullivan will be the acting head of Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), replacing Victoria Coates.

Biden's house-cleaning

The Biden administration named Kelu Chao, a longtime journalist at Voice of America (VOA), as the acting CEO of the USAGM its first full-working day on Thursday. Chao replaced controversial Trump-appointee Michael Pack as the new head of the agency that oversees these media outlets, including the VOA.

Pack, a one-time associate of former Trump adviser and far-right ideologue Steve Bannon, was forced to resign just hours after Joe Biden took office as president.

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The director of Voice of America and his deputy were soon removed.

Chao also named new corporate board directors for the three broadcasters, replacing the board directors named by Pack days before his resignation. The new directors are Karen Kornbluh, former ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, who will serve as chair; Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Iraq; and PR executive Michael Kempner.

Michael Pack's controversial tenure

Pack had been accused by Democrats of trying to turn VOA and other networks into pro-Trump propaganda machines.

Soon after taking charge, he fired the boards of all the outlets under his control along with the leadership of the individual broadcast networks.

Trump, known to have had an adversarial relationship with the media, had severely criticized VOA while naming Pack to lead the organization that supervised these outlets. 

Trump had said in April that Pack would "do a great job" overseeing Voice of America.

"And if you heard what's coming out of the Voice of America, it's disgusting," he said. "The things they say are disgusting toward our country."

adi/dj (AP)

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