Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ US https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ The Voice of America CEO restricted the rights to first amend his journalists, the judge’s rules

The Voice of America CEO restricted the rights to first amend his journalists, the judge’s rules

In a 76-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell found that Michael Pack, executive director of the U.S. Global Media Agency, and his team violated journalists’ rights to the First Amendment. She also found that Pack and his team showed a “comprehensive pattern of punishing those USAGM and network employees whom the defendant considers insufficient support for President Trump.”

Howell’s dominant barriers Pack and others are from pursuing any action that would limit VOA’s editorial independence, including taking staff actions against journalists or editors, attempting to influence content by communicating with individual journalists or editors, and investigating “alleged violations of journalistic ethics. “

The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed by five senior executives at USAGM, which Pack had fired or suspended in August. The top executives claimed that Pack and other top staff were trying to interfere in their work because it did not align with the president̵
7;s political interests and asked for a preliminary injunction to stop the intervention.

“The defendant’s extensive pattern of punishing the USAGM and network employees whom the defendant considers to be insufficient support for President Trump has resulted in the dismissal, discipline and investigation of several employees and journalists,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

Shawn Powers, USAGM’s Director of Strategy and Plaintiff, said that “Judge Howell’s injunction against Mr. Pack confirms a central principle of USAGM’s mission: that the protection and export of rights and values ​​for First Amendment directly support America’s national interests.”

CNN has reached out to USAGM for comments from the defendants.

Acting VOA Director Elez Biberaj told CNN in a statement that editorial independence without political interference is what makes VOA “America’s voice.”

“Stable 83% of VOA’s audience find our journalism reliable,” said Biberaj. “There are few, if any, media organizations that can claim such trust. I am proud of our journalists who continue to uphold the traditions of VOA to provide our audience with accurate, objective and comprehensive reporting.”

In his ruling, Judge Howell Pack and his co-defendants described him as “individuals with no appreciable journalism or television experience.” She added that Pack had tried to interfere in the agency’s editorial staff “contrary to their eighty-year-old practice enshrined in law, with journalistic autonomy.”

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VOA is one of several U.S. government-funded broadcasters bringing news to people around the world. It was set up in 1942 to fight Nazi propaganda, according to its website.

In July, a two-party group of senators promised to review USAGM’s funding over concerns over Pack’s mass layoffs. In October, the State Department inspector and the US Office of Special Counsel began investigations into alleged misconduct and retaliation after six senior USAGM officials filed a complaint alleging that Pack was involved in abuse of authority and gross misconduct, according to Mark Zaid, the lawyer who whistleblowers.
Shortly after Pack took over the helm of the agency in June, VOA’s top officials stepped up massively. Later that month, Pack fired the leaders of four agencies run by the agency in what was called the “Wednesday night massacre.”

Prior to joining the agency, Pack was best known for making documentaries with a conservative bent and is an ally of former White House strategist Steve Bannon. He was president of the Conservative Claremont Institute from 2015 to 2017.

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