Washington, DC—Today, Representatives Gregory W. Meeks, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Michael McCaul, the Committee’s Ranking Member, released a joint statement praising the decision by Kelu Chao, acting CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) to name three highly-qualified individuals as the heads of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (acting), Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Network, and to replace the corporate boards of directors of those broadcasters. The decision follows a letter Reps. Meeks, McCaul, Kinzinger, Kaptur, and Keating sent just last week asking the incoming CEO to focus on “immediately restoring the integrity of RFE/RL and other USAGM networks.”
“We applaud CEO Chao’s decision to restore integrity and independence to these three broadcasters after the damaging efforts of former CEO Michael Pack to politicize United States international broadcasting. Ms. Chao was well within her authority to remove these individuals who, by law, ‘serve at the pleasure of and may be named by’ the Acting CEO. We look forward to working together, on a bipartisan basis, to help Ms. Chao restore USAGM and ensure that all of its activities, as the law requires, are ‘conducted in accordance with the highest professional standards of broadcast journalism.’ A revitalized USAGM is critical to promoting the free flow of information to people that are hungry for independent and accurate news and, in turn, to U.S. efforts to support democracy and human rights around world,” Meeks and McCaul said today.
On Friday, January 22nd, acting CEO of USAGM Kelu Chao fired Radio Free Europe head Ted Lipien, Middle East Broadcasting Network director Victoria Coates, and Radio Free Asia chief Stephen Yates. Lipien, Coates, and Yates were all appointed by former USAGM chief Michael Pack, who resigned on the 20th after being notified he would be removed by President Biden. Pack and his appointees drew bipartisan criticism for interfering in USAGM’s journalistic independence and integrity.