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On Joe Biden’s first day in office, he got right to work. The press focused on Biden’s 17 executive orders, from shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline, to ending border wall construction just as thousands of migrants in a pandemic are surging in. Biden did it for an aim that was clear enough — to quickly undo the legacy and achievements of President Trump, and enact a sort of Obama restoration of the status quo.
He also did something else that didn’t get much press, for far muddier reasons: Mass firings at the Voice of America, a minor government agency that normally merits little attention.
What the hell was that about?
According to the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi:
President Biden moved swiftly to oust top managers loyal to former president Donald Trump who had been blamed for recent turmoil at the federal government’s array of international news organizations, including the biggest and most influential one, the Voice of America.
Only hours after he was inaugurated, Biden forced out Michael Pack, the controversial head of the agency that oversees VOA and four other networks that broadcast news to millions of people abroad. This was followed, domino-like, on Thursday by the removal of VOA’s director and deputy director after only a few weeks on the job.
In doing so, Biden appears to be putting the brakes on what critics said was an effort by the Trump administration to turn the news agencies into mouthpieces for Trump’s views and policies.
Why so fast?
Pack and his allies had only been in office for about five months of a three-year appointment before Biden demanded his resignation. President Trump didn’t pay a lot of big attention to what was going on there given that he had other fish to fry, and in any case, might have been in the dark. Democrats, though, and a few Republicans, had stalled his confirmation in the Senate for about three years, while Obama-era holdouts, who should have been out on Day One of the Trump administration, somehow held on, as bitter clingers to power.
The press screamed that Pack, an experienced filmmaker, was destroying journalistic standards and making VOA a mouthpiece for President Trump’s policies (which sounds like a good idea, but never mind that). It hailed Amanda Bennett, the leftist VOA director who had finally been dislodged, as the epitome of journalistic standards, which she sort of was, as journalism is practiced today, the kind that has put it in such low public regard.
Bottom line, the attacks on Pack were garbage, and in fact, precisely the opposite of what was going on.
Pack went to work to restore journalistic standards there to just basic facts with less bias. A South Asian branch of the service had been literally running Biden campaign propaganda courting Muslim voters as straight news — got investigated and shut down, with firings. Meanwhile, the world’s dissidents, from Iran, China and other hellholes unexpectedly erupted into cheers at Pack’s arrival given that the VOA had been broadcasting mullah and ChiCom propaganda for years by “reporters” who seemed to them like infiltrators, given their pro-ChiCom and pro-mullah bias. There were also sex scandals and lawsuits and problems with VOA’s openly Trump-hating White House correspondent, Steve Herman, whose Trump-hate made him make a fool of himself.
Pack though, was forced out, despite his three-year tenure as chief of an independent agency, on Day One, in a very unusual move by the minions associated with President Joe Biden. Pack’s lieutenants were out, too.
Why the speed? Trump, after all, had let the agency fester in left-wingery for a full three years.
Some theories come to mind:
The people being brought in are seen as allies of the ousted Bennett, who has links to the Washington Post. Links? We understate: She’s literally married to the WaPo’s CEO. Was Biden swift act, then, a bid to win the favor of the Post’s coverage, given the unpopularity of his policies? It seems like a distinct possibility.
What else? Maybe Biden needs a propaganda outlet, given the implosion and unreliability of the social media giants. Many Democrats hate and distrust them as much as Republicans. Social media theoretically could affect Biden and his agenda just as surely as it does Republicans, so having a full blown news outlet could come in handy.
Or, maybe Biden wanted to whip up international praise for his leadership, given his low legitimacy in the U.S. as president, owing to the stench of election fraud that hangs around him. Does he need a propaganda outlet for burnishing his legitimacy abroad? Another possibility.
Or more specifically, could this act have been a favor to the ChiComs, whom, dissidents claim, have infiltrated the agency. We know the ChiComs cheered and tweeted ‘good riddance’ when President Trump departed office. Could it have been that?
The only thing that seems certain is that someone in the leftist camp thought it mighty important to get control of Voice of America on Day One, seemingly as a military-like strategy of seizing communications. Whoever it was behind this couldn’t wait even a day.
What that means is anyone’s guess, but whatever it was, it seems mighty important as one of the very first acts of President Joe Biden. Why was getting a politicized control over Voice of America so important to him? The reasoning of that will probably unfold soon.