Donald Trump is reportedly set to install Steve Bannon's ally and supporter Michael Pack as the head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America — a network that reaches over 270 million people around the world.
The Trump administration is reportedly about to install Michael Pack, an ally and acolyte of Steve Bannon, as CEO of the taxpayer-funded Broadcasting Board of Governors.
The position oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and the Middle East Broadcast Network, together reaching 278 million people around the world and broadcasting to 100 different countries in 61 languages.
Pack worked with Bannon on his way through the conservative media landscape. The two men collaborated on a number of documentaries, including "Rickover," which Current said "unfolds with an eye toward promoting the benefits of nuclear power," while it "mocks anti-nuclear activists of the 1970s."
Pack is a huge fan of Bannon, calling the white nationalist ideologue "one of the greatest filmmakers in America today." After Bannon was installed in his White House job, Pack wrote an op-ed for The Federalist in which he stated that he hoped having "a documentarian in the White House" would "break their politically correct stranglehold and open a path for young, talented conservative filmmakers."
Currently, Pack is president and CEO of the Claremont Institute, and is the publisher at the Claremont Review of Books. Claremont has been described as the "academic home of Trumpism" by the Chronicle of Higher Education. For years, it has pumped money into Rush Limbaugh's misogynistic and racist radio show via ads sponsoring his program, and even once gave Limbaugh its Winston Churchill Statesmanship Award.
Previously, CEOs of the Broadcasting Board of Governors were rooted in journalism, not political activism. The current CEO, John Lansing, was the president of Scripps Networks. Before him, the job was held by Andy Lack, who is currently the president of NBC News.
In the past, the position was walled off from directly controlling the output of the network by a bipartisan board. But Republicans in Congress disbanded the board in a provision tucked into the Defense Authorization Act that passed in December.
A senior government official told Politico, "The White House could theoretically use the BBG for any kind of messaging." A Republican official told them a few months ago, "There’s some fear among the folks here that the firewall will get diminished and attacked and this could fall victim to propaganda."
The organizations under the board currently operate as individual journalistic outlets, most notably Voice of America.
Trump has already shown his disdain for the traditionally journalistic organization of the Board with the men he appointed to oversee its transition between administrations. The two men he put in charge, Matthew Ciepielowski and Matthew Schuck, were part of his political campaign and had no previous connection to journalism.
Voice of America was started during World War II as a counter to Nazi propaganda, and continued as a bulwark against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Soon, it could instead become a publicly financed reflection of the for-profit pro-Trump propaganda outlets currently in operation, making a mockery of its former mission opposing authoritarian regimes.