WASHINGTON – A federal judge has ruled in favor of the head of the agency that runs America America and other US-funded news outlets, accused of trying to turn it into a propaganda vehicle to promote President Donald Trump’s agenda.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals against Michael P. Fork, CEO of Global Media. The agency’s employees are effectively banned from making decisions and interfering with editorial operations.
Trump’s ally and one-time collaborator of Trump’s former political adviser, Steve Bennon, a five-year-old filmmaker, is no secret of his intentions to shake up the agency after taking office in June.
He further refined the leadership at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Open Technological Fund, which works to provide secure Internet access to people around the world. The director and deputy director of VOA resigned a few days before the FIR. Also canceled the pack or their board of directors.
His move was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress who control the agency’s budget.
The lawsuit was filed last month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which was dismissed or suspended by five officers. They accused Peck and his senior advisers of violating a “legal firearm” aimed at protecting news organizations from political interference.
After filing the lawsuit, Pack announced that it had revoked the “Fire Rule” issued by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. In a statement posted on his agency’s website, he said the rule prohibited him from directing broadcast operations incorrectly and “made it difficult for the agency to operate.”
In his ruling late Friday night, Judge Barrell Howell issued preliminary orders barring the crop from making employee decisions about agency-employed journalists, communicating directly with them, and conducting any investigations about editorial material or individual journalists.
In July, Peck VOA ordered an investigation into the posting of a video package featuring the current president-elect Joe Biden on the website. He called the segment “pro-biden” and said his staff was weighing disciplinary action against those responsible.
In August, fourteen senior VOA journalists sent a letter to management protesting PACK’s move, dismissing foreign journalists and rejecting their comments to VOA staff, which they said jeopardized the credibility of their colleagues and the international broadcaster.
“The Court upheld that the First Amendment prohibits Mr. Pacquiao and his team from attempting to take control of these journalism outlets, from allegedly ‘biasing’ their reporters and from trying to influence or control their reporting material.” Counsel for the plaintiff, said in a statement.
The global media agency did not immediately respond to a written request for comment on the ruling.
The VOA was founded during World War II and is required by its congressional charter to present independent news and information to an international audience.