President Donald Trump “temporarily assigned” two campaign operatives to the Voice of America this week, sparking fears that he could turn the broadcasting agency into his own personal propaganda network.
The Trump administration gained control over the State Department-run VOA just weeks after Congress voted to eliminate its board of directors and turned over its administration to a chief executive position appointed by the president, reported MSNBC.
Matthew Ciepielowski and Matthew Schuck, who worked for the Trump campaign in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, visited the Broadcasting Board of Governors on Monday to discuss VOA’s hand-over to the Trump administration.
Their visit, along with the restructuring of VOA oversight, has raised concerns that the former reality TV star might politicize the broadcast network for his own benefit.
The board of governors has an annual budget of $800 million to operate Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.
VOA is subsidized by the U.S. government, but its overseas broadcasts have traditionally remained nonpartisan and promoted American-style democracy throughout the world.
A previous chairman of that board of governors, Kenneth Tomlinson, resigned in 2005 after a State Department investigation found that he’d run a horse-racing operation from his office and improperly put a friend on the payroll.
Tomlinson got that job during the George W. Bush administration after a controversial tenure at the Corporation for Public Broadcaster.
He also was accused of politicizing the board by suppressing reports due to perceived “liberal bias” and purging political enemies from the agency.