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‘Worrying on so many levels’: Trump’s new media chief initiates an ‘alarming’ purge of US-funded news outlets

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President Donald Trump’s newly-appointed head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media was criticized Thursday for enacting what one former employee called a “Wednesday night massacre“—firing several career officials at the agency which oversees government-funded news broadcasters around the world, including Voice of America.

Days after being confirmed to his position in a party-line vote, Michael Pack dismissed Bay Fang of Radio Free Asia; Jamie Fly of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Alberto M. Fernandez of Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Emilio Vazquez of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting; and Libby Liu of the Open Technology Fund.

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Liu was fired despite the fact that she had earlier announced her resignation, effective in July. The director and deputy director of Voice of America, Amanda Bennett and Sandra Sugawara, also resigned after Pack was confirmed.

Pack has already replaced several of the officials with Trump allies and political appointees, and is expected to name former Breitbart News writer Jeffrey Shapiro as the head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

Both Shapiro and Pack are close allies of Steve Bannon, Trump’s former advisor who formerly worked as the executive chairman of Breitbart News. Pack, a right-wing filmmaker, made two documentary films with Bannon about nuclear power and the Iraq War.

Shapiro reportedly said in 2017 that he aimed to one day remake the USAGM as a “Bannon legacy,” and in 2016 wrote an op-ed denying claims that Bannon is a white nationalist.

Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, tweeted that Pack’s actions in his first days at the helm of the USAGM was “alarming.”

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“The Breitbart crowd may be getting a taxpayer-funded global platform,” wrote Shaub.

The “Wednesday night massacre” came on the heels of numerous attacks from the president of Voice of America (VOA), which he claims broadcasted Iranian and Chinese propaganda, particularly regarding the coronavirus pandemic. In April, Trump said delays in Pack’s confirmation hearings were preventing the administration from “managing” VOA.

Progressive critics have long considered VOA a vehicle for U.S. government propaganda overseas, promoting American-friendly coverage of world events while masquerading as an independent “voice.” Still, the overt takeover by a Trump sycophant and political supporter has raised particular alarm.

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As Jon Allsop wrote at Columbia Journalism Review on Wednesday, VOA and the other news organizations operating under the USAGM do not operate entirely independently of the federal government’s interests.

“While VOA is mandated by Congress to do independent journalism and its leaders have sometimes sought to style it as a normal news organization, there’s no getting around the fact that it was founded, during the Second World War, as a vehicle for American soft power, and never really abandoned that role,” Allsop wrote.

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However, he added, “Trump’s very public attitude toward VOA is ample cause for concern,” as the president could be aiming to use the broadcaster as a tool in his “fitful, moral-free approach to US foreign policy.”

Nina Jankowicz of the nonpartisan Wilson Center expressed concern that as “cut-and-dry administration mouthpieces” VOA and its partner broadcasters will disappear as sources of news in parts of the world “where there otherwise might not be one.”

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Pack’s dismissal of the longtime officials—and his demand Wednesday to staffers that “Until further notice, no actions are to be taken, and no external communications are to be made, without explicit approval” of the new executives—could also eventually endanger people working for USAGM around the world.

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“Trump wants a ministry of information that will spew out the party line,” Brett Bruen, director of global engagement under former President Barack Obama, tolAsia Times. “It’s a dangerous moment for democracy.”


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Rudy Giuliani’s daughter announces her support for Biden/Harris

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The daughter of former NYC Mayor and current Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has endorsed Joe Biden's presidential bid.

Caroline Rose Giuliani, 31, tweeted a photo of herself with Harris on Tuesday with the caption “an excellent day for a repost from this bleeding [heart] of mine #bidenharris2020 #removetrump.” She also shared a donation link in a subsequent tweet, calling on people to “help start turning this sh*t around!! It’s a matter of life or (many) death(s) at this point."

https://twitter.com/CarolineRoseGiu/status/1293380671902105601?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1293380671902105601%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fdailycaller.com%2F2020%2F08%2F12%2Fcaroline-giuliani-rudys-daughter-endorses-joe-biden-kamala-harris-election-2020%2F

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Bill Maher shrugs off Trump’s rant after the president says the HBO host ‘looks terrible’

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at comedian Bill Maher, after the HBO host conducted a fake eulogy of the president on his "Real Time" show.

“Watched @billmaher last week for the first time in a long time. He’s totally SHOT, looks terrible, exhausted, gaunt, and weak. If there was ever a good reason for no shutdown, check out this jerk. He never had much going for him, but whatever he did have is missing in action!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Maher had a simple response on Twitter: "Really? This is what the president of the United States does with his time?"

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2020 Election

Get ready for petulant Trump to punish America if Biden wins

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What could happen to America if Trump were to further, severely crash the U.S. economy the day after Joe Biden is announced as the winner of the 2020 presidential race?

As Trump tweeted on June 15, 2019, “if anyone but me takes over… there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before!”

On July 6, 2020, he tweeted, “If you want your 401k’s and Stocks, which are getting close to an all time high (NASDAQ is already there), to disintegrate and disappear, vote for the Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats and Corrupt Joe Biden.”

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