Biden Fires Steve Bannon Protege, Who Tried To Turn Voice Of America Into A New Breitbart

from the and-he-whines-about-partisanship-on-the-way-out dept

Last summer we covered how Trump had hired Michael Pack, a protégé of Steve Bannon, to run US Agency for Global Media. USAGM is the organization that runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting. It also runs the Open Technology Fund (which itself spun out of Radio Free Europe, and helped to fund a variety of important technologies for enabling free speech among dissidents and activists). It was clear from the beginning that Pack's plan was to (a) recraft the media organizations to be propaganda machines and (b) shift OTF's funding to some organizations with security/encryption techniques that were not widely trusted. Pack fired a bunch of people in a move that a court later rejected, noting that Pack did not have the authority to do so.

He also began a witch hunt at Voice of America, seeking to investigate journalists for "anti-Trump bias" and get rid of them. A reporter who asked a perfectly reasonable question to Mike Pompeo was reassigned.

As we pointed out, this kind of meddling, beyond likely breaking the law, was also doing tremendous damage to the credibility of these organizations, and certainly to the important technical work that OTF funds.

So it was good to see that one of Biden's first moves upon getting into office was to demand Pack's resignation and also to shuffle the leadership at Voice of America.

In an act of true projection, on the way out the door Pack whined about how being fired was a partisan act and would harm credibility. This is all bullshit. From day one, Pack was a partisan hack who tried to turn Voice of America into a pro-Trump media organization.

Whether or not people like or appreciate the work that USAGM and its various organizations do, there is no doubt that Pack's efforts harmed those organizations' credibility. Good riddance.

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Filed Under: joe biden, michael pack, otf, partisanship, propaganda, steve bannon, usagm, voice of america
Companies: otf, usagm, voice of america


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 2:17pm

    Still, nobody gives a fuck

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 2:22pm

    'Those are only acceptable when we do them!'

    In an act of true projection, on the way out the door Pack whined about how being fired was a partisan act and would harm credibility.

    Given why he was given the position and what he was doing with it you gotta love the hypocrisy of that particular whining, as even assuming he was right it's rather rich that only now are those things apparently bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 3:31pm

      Re: 'Those are only acceptable when we do them!'

      Remember when Republicans spent months accusing Democrats of trying to overturn the results of an election?

      It's always projection with them. Always.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2021 @ 6:21am

        Re: Re: 'Those are only acceptable when we do them!'

        Remember when Republicans spent months accusing Democrats of trying to overturn the results of an election?

        Months? The Democrats spent four years trying to overturn the 2016 election.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rocky, 23 Jan 2021 @ 7:55am

          Re: Re: Re: 'Those are only acceptable when we do them!'

          I think you are conflating overturning an election with foreign interests influencing an election. It's easy to do when you don't care about facts.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 23 Jan 2021 @ 9:59am

          Re: Re: Re: 'Those are only acceptable when we do them!'

          Nope. They observed that Russians attempted to interfere in the election using hacks, leaks, and disinformation campaigns, and that those attempts tried to get Trump elected. They also observed that Trump, his campaign, and his administration were very cavalier about the whole thing and lied about a number of contacts with Russians during the campaign. A Trump-appointed cabinet member then appointed a Republican former FBI head to head a special investigation into the matter. There were some calls for impeachment around this point, but some were from Republican officials and none went anywhere.

          That investigation found that Russia had in fact made the attempt to interfere in the election, that a number of Trump’s associates had done some illegal things during and after the election (who they prosecuted or got guilty pleas from), and was inconclusive on whether or not and to what extent Trump was personally aware of or involved in these matters, but that he had obstructed justice, though as President the only recourse was for Congress to impeach him. Although several Democrats wanted to impeach Trump over the obstruction-of-justice charges, no actual attempt was made to do so.

          Then, more than 3 years into Trump’s presidency, after learning about a call to Ukraine where Trump tried to force Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden’s son while Biden was running against him, the House began proceedings towards impeaching him based solely on that and not anything that happened prior to that, but after he was formally impeached and the case was sent to the Senate for a trial, the Senate ruled to acquit him along party lines with the exception of Mitt Romney, who voted to convict.

          It’s worth noting that impeaching a President is not “attempting to overturn an election” unless it is based entirely on trumped-up charges, which this was not. There were no claims that the transcript of the call was false, that the witnesses were lying, or that the alleged conduct was proper (well, except for Trump claiming it was “the perfect call”, but even most Republicans thought the call was improper behavior; they just didn’t think he should be impeached/removed from office over it).

          At no point did Democratic politicians claim that the election was rigged, claim that there was widespread election or voter fraud, try to contest the election results, election process, certification process, or selection of electors in court, try to get state legislatures to appoint a slate of electors contrary to the election results, try to contest the electoral college vote results, interfere with the certification of the electoral college vote, claim that Trump’s victory or presidency was illegitimate, consider imposing martial law to redo the election or something like that, or force their way into a government building that they were not allowed to enter while government officials were inside on official business and while carrying weapons and flex-cuffs and bombs and proceed to kill a police officer, steal government property, break doors and windows (among other things), leave bombs at DNC and RNC HQs, threaten to kill government officials, search through government officials’ documents for “something good we can use”, or any of that crap.

          Now, it is true that many people (including Democrats) were unhappy with the results of the 2016 election, that there were two faithless electors in that election who chose to not vote for Trump, that people (including Democrats) alleged that Russia at least attempted to interfere with the election (because it was true, even if how much of an effect it had is debatable), that some Democrats who were not in government (incorrectly) thought that the Russians had hacked the voting machines to give Trump the victory (though this never had much traction and no mainstream media source or Democratic official claimed that), that many people (including Democrats) protested Trump’s victory and/or actions as President (though these protests were almost entirely peaceful and never involved storming a government building), that some Democratic officials (and some Republican officials) called for Trump’s impeachment a few months into his presidency (though, again, nothing actually happened until more than halfway through his third year), that a lot of Democrats pointed out that despite Trump winning in the electoral college he had lost the popular vote by millions of votes, and that a lot of Democrats wanted Trump’s presidency to end early.

          However, none of this means that Democrats spent four years trying to overturn the 2016 election.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 23 Jan 2021 @ 6:25am

        Re: Re: 'Those are only acceptable when we do them!'

        Well, in this case it is useful projection since the large population centers (leaning Democratic) have considerable controls in place against voter fraud while the small towns (leaning Republican) are spread out too much to have effective controls everywhere. Now if the impression in those small towns with few if any Democratic (or even Republican?) election watchers think that the Democrats are cheating widescale and are trying to steal the election, they'll feel justified to compensate...

        Remember that phone call to Raffensperger where Trump excoriated him and told him to "find" more Republican votes? That sounds like Trump knows how to make this a thing, and who knows where else he tried or tried getting this kind of suggestion to trickle down to ground zero.

        And of course the storylines are also preparing for more traditional forms of putting the thumb on the scales, namely Jim Crow Law style vote suppression that has regained feasibility with the repeat of the Voting Rights Act.

        Note that the Republican mantra is to count "all legally cast votes" rather than all "votes from eligible voters". Their problem is not stopping fraudulent votes, but stopping undesirable votes.

        It's "stop the steal", not "stop the fraud". And you get statements like "if we allow for universal mail-in vote, no Republican president is going to get elected any more". Which makes very clear that the goal is not voter validation but voter suppression.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 23 Jan 2021 @ 11:40am

          The ultimate political own-goal

          It's "stop the steal", not "stop the fraud". And you get statements like "if we allow for universal mail-in vote, no Republican president is going to get elected any more". Which makes very clear that the goal is not voter validation but voter suppression.

          That argument/claim gets me every time, as it shows that even the ones making it know that the majority of people don't agree with them and the only way they can win is by cheating.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 3:13pm

    Unfortunately Biden's going to have to spend most of his presidency removing unqualified Trump appointees who care more about partisan politics than doing their job. Shame the judges are all lifetime appointments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 3:35pm

      Re:

      Unfortunately Biden's going to have to spend most of his presidency removing unqualified Trump appointees who care more about partisan politics than doing their job.

      No, firing Trump appointees is easy.

      It's replacing all the career civil servants Trump fired that's going to be hard.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 4:10pm

        Re: Re:

        Oh I dunno, I can think of a good way to pitch that offer. 'Hey, want to piss off the asshole that fired you and work with me to undo the damage he did, showing how stupid he was to fire you in the first place?'

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 24 Jan 2021 @ 5:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          But by this point many of them have new jobs and no interest in going back. Spite can be a motivator, but it's not the only motivator for well-adjusted people.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 10:50pm

        Re: Re:

        The hard part is flushing out all the lackeys that Trump's appointees hired.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 4:08pm

      Re:

      unqualified Trump appointees

      As a man in a red trench coat and hat once said, 'Whoops, tautology!'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 4:52pm

      Re:

      Shame the judges are all lifetime appointments.

      Well, about that...

      Qualifications:
      The ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary is generally cited as the judge of "qualified" or "unqualified". Some 10 or so Trump appointees were given the "not qualified" rating by the ABA. Notably, one of the candidates went from "not qualified" one year to "well qualified" the next. Huh. How about that?

      Some judges and lawyers have resigned from the ABA in protest of various thing, often involving the group turning towards politicking. Admittedly, this is nothing new.

      Partisan politics:
      IMO, whether a judge is a liberal or a conservative is of far less concern than whether they are an Originalist or Textualist or living constitutionalist.

      But true enough: A judge who votes on his ideology is not someone you want to be standing (or sitting) in front of in a courtroom. So when you say they care more about partisan politics than doing their job and turn your eyes to the judiciary, you might want to count the number of lawsuits the Trump team launched, that were shot down by Trump appointees. Example.

      So ... you can't always tell. Just because a judge decides against your team (whatever your team is), doesn't mean that he sides with the other team.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2021 @ 8:23pm

        Re: Re:

        This.
        I think the binary thinking, such as the idea that this guy was bad so all decisions and appointees must also be bad, is binary thinking that ignores the nuance of the matter.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 23 Jan 2021 @ 10:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          True. As Trump learned, even if someone is loyal to you, there may be limits to that loyalty. For example, Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation and Bill Barr refusing to lie about the election results.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Jan 2021 @ 6:32am

      Re:

      "Unfortunately Biden's going to have to spend most of his presidency removing unqualified Trump appointees who care more about partisan politics than doing their job."

      Biden can surely fire them quickly, but for every person Trump appointed there will be, over the last four years, a thousand opportunists who aren't in the position to make too big a mess but are still unqualified for their job.

      What Biden will spend his time on will be damage control. Trump butchered enormous parts of the federal machinery with legislation and budget cuts. What Biden has inherited is a very large building with a lot of the load-bearing structure cut out of it, courtesy of the previous tenant, creaking and swaying in the wind, with bits and pieces of it set to come tumbling down within these next few years. And with most of the maintenance crew having been laid off years ago all he has to fix it with is bales of duct tape and magic wire in the form of executive orders.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 22 Jan 2021 @ 4:42pm

    Good. Hopefully the USPS will be next.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Beefcake (profile), 22 Jan 2021 @ 5:16pm

    For once pack(et) loss is a good thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2021 @ 6:16am

    Pack is annoyed as he's only been able to steal a small percentage of VoA funding.

    He didn't manage to redirect the bulk of the money to 'interested parties' (re: his own bank account via shell companies).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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