Senate Approves Global Media CEO Pack

Heads up VOA, other government-funded international news outlets

Pack

The Senate Thursday (June 4) approved the nomination of conservative filmmaker documentary Michael Pack as head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) with the title CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

The vote was 53 to 38. 

The President had threatened back in April to adjourn both House and Senate–they were holding pro-forma, gavel-in, gavel out” while members sheltered in place–and make that and other recess appointments, using a COVID-19 press conferences to complain about inaction on his nominees and pointing to Pack as an example–he had nominated him in 2018. 

Related: Trump Seeks to Cut International Media Funding

The New York Times reported that the nomination holdup included an investigation by D.C. into the funding relationship between Pack’s nonprofit and for-profit film group. 

USAGM oversees government-funded independent news outlets providing info to countries where press freedom is problematic. Those outlets include the iconic Voice of America, which Trump attacked during the press conference, saying what was coming out of VOA was “disgusting.”  

In pushing for funding cuts for international broadcasting, the White House said that it has concluded that “information statecraft and public diplomacy programs by the U.S. Government have been tepid, fragmented, and not fully effective in countering the exploitation of information by U.S. rivals.” The Administration has said it doesn’t want to continue to fund projects whose effectiveness is unknown and whose efforts are not coordinated across government agencies.

VOA and the other outlets used to be overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, but the President moved to a CEO-led model. 

Pack is President of film and TV production company Manifold Productions where he has written and directed documentaries (God and the Inner City, The Fall of Newt Gingrich, Campus Culture Wars: Five Stories about Political Correctness), principally for PBS. He served as SVP of TV programming for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 2003-2006 and in 2002-2005 served on the National Council on the Humanities. 

Pack is no stranger to VOA, having served as director of WORLDNET, which is now VOA-TV.