Washington – A federal judge has it Rule The head of the agency that operates Voice of America and other news outlets funded by the United States has been accused of trying to turn it into a propaganda tool to promote President Donald Trump’s agenda.
The ruling effectively bans the CEO of the US Global Media Agency Michael Buck From making employee decisions and interfering with editorial processes.
Buck, a conservative filmmaker, Trump ally and former partner of Trump’s political advisor, Steve Bannon, made no secret of his intention to change the agency after taking office in June.
Set out to cleanse the leadership of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East broadcast networks and the Open Technology Fund, which works to provide safe internet access to people all over the world. A director and deputy director of the VOA resigned just days before the dismissal. Buck also expelled their board of directors.
His moves have been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who control the agency’s budget.
The lawsuit It was filed last month to the District Court of Columbia by five executives who have been fired or suspended. They accused Buck and his senior advisers of violating the “legal firewall” intended to protect news organizations from political interference.
After the lawsuit was filed, Buck announced that he had canceled the Broadcasting Board’s “firewall rule”. In a statement posted on his agency’s website, he said that al-Qaeda had wrongly prevented him from directing broadcasts and had “made it difficult to manage the agency.”
In her ruling late Friday, Judge Beryl Howell imposed preliminary court orders barring Buck from making personal decisions about reporters working for the agency, communicating directly with them and conducting any investigations into editorial content or individual journalists.
In July, Buck ordered an investigation into posting a video package showing now President-elect Joe Biden on the VOA website. He described the clip as “pro-Biden” and said his staff were considering disciplinary action against those responsible.
Fourteen of the Voice of America’s top journalists sent a letter to the administration in August Protest against Buck’s actions, Including the sacking of foreign journalists and his discrediting comments from Voice of America staff, which they said endangered colleagues and IB’s credibility.
“The court confirmed that the First Amendment prohibits Mr. Buck and his team from attempting to control these press outlets, investigate their journalists for alleged“ bias ”, and attempt to influence or control the content of their reports,” Lee Crane, the plaintiff’s attorney said in a statement.
The World Media Agency did not immediately respond to a written request for comment on the ruling.
Voice of America was established during World War II and its parliamentary charter requires it to provide independent news and information to international audiences.
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