Watchdog group calls it unprecedented assault on free press
Independent watchdog group Freedom House is slamming what it says is the Trump Administration’s attack on press freedom, in this case an outlet funded by the government.
“VOA is one of the largest and most trusted independent news agencies in the world,” said Freedom House President Michael J. Abramowitz. “Efforts to blacklist VOA journalists from interview requests to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are an unprecedented attack on press freedom in the United States.”
Freedom House cites documents released under a FOIA request by the Knight First Amendment Institute that found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff had been inctructed to ignore requests from interview and info requests from the Voice of America.
Those instructions, reported on by VOA, cited an April 10 White House statement accusing VOA of speaking for U.S. Adversaries, including promoting China’s response to the pandemic.
President Trump has accused VOA of badmouthing the U.S. in the past, branding its broadcasts as “disgusting.” VOA and other government-funded global media are specifically chartered as independent new outlets, not U.S. propaganda outlets.
One issue for the President was the two years that the nomination of his new head of VOA parent Agency for Global Media (USAGM), Michael Pack, was held up by Democrats. Pack finally got his vote of approval by the Senate Republican Majority June 4, which prompted the resignation of VOA leadership.