Former leaders of the US Agency for Global Media meeting with members of Joe Biden’s transition team to discuss what has happened at the federal media agency under President Donald Trump and what to do for the organization under the new system are doing.
The leader of Biden’s USAGM transition team, Richard Stengel, is an MSNBC political analyst and former managing editor at Time magazine. He served as a member of President Barack Obama’s administration as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
These agency review teams are “responsible for understanding the actions of each agency, ensuring the smooth transfer of power, and preparing President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Harris and his cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One For “the transition website says.
Biden’s transition consultant, Jane Sanaki, told reporters on Wednesday, “By the end of the business on Tuesday, the agency’s review teams contacted or met with 50 agencies and commissions, including each of the principal offices of the president’s executive office.” “
Biden Transition spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Stengel did not respond to a request for comment via his NBC email.
Initial conversations suggest that Biden is reversing what was done for the agency in the later stages of the Trump administration. The president-elect is committed to removing the first Michael Pack, Trump-appointed USAGM CEO.
Other members of Stingle and Biden’s USAGM review team spoke with some of the former agency chiefs who were evicted by the pack, according to people with direct knowledge of the case. Soon after being confirmed by the Senate this summer, the pack gave USAGM’s network board members and leaders a purse at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Middle East Broadcasting Network and Radio Free Asia.
Those who refused to keep the name did so to speak freely.
Both the pack and the CEO have come into the discussion before the way the agency has been run. The focus on the pack has partially changed to bring back the so-called “firewall” that the pack has moved to abort. The “firewall” law, according to the USAGM Network Voice of America, was “designed to shelter journalists from interference that could reduce their credibility.”
In addition to removing key leaders of USAGM, the pack has been under siege by critics ever since he became the agency’s leader. National Public Radio recently put together a comprehensive list of problems that the agency has faced, including claims and claims of anti-Trump bias against VOA’s White House bureau chief.
Trump himself has publicly targeted VOA. Prior to taking the helm at USAGM, Pack was a conservative filmmaker and had a relationship with former White House strategist Steve Bannon, as the two worked together on two documentaries.
Another pack-related concern that was brought up for the Biden team is the “interest in restoring stability” by the incoming administration according to people with direct knowledge. The person said that the names to replace the pack, which have been given to members of the Biden Agency Review, include Grant Turner, who was once the executive CEO of USAGM. This person has also discussed bringing back several other media heads who were removed during the initial purification of the pack.
Stengel himself may also be the next leader of the USAGM after taking charge of the transition review team.
John Lansing, former CEO of USAGM, who is currently the president of National Public Radio, is among the people associated with Stengel’s team, according to People. Lansing left before the pack arrived. The Biden team also honored former USAGM senior advisor, Steve Capus, who was dropped at the beginning of the pack’s tenure.
Before his role at the agency, Capus had a 20-year career at NBC with Stance as president of NBC News and with Tom Broca as executive producer of NBC Nightly News. He was later an executive producer at CBS News, his LinkedIn page states.
An NPR spokesman did not deny that Lansing spoke to Biden’s transition team and declined to comment further. Capus did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
One of the documents given to Stengel’s team is titled “VOA Changes”, another person explained. It takes the agency on morale in the Voice of America before the pack, among other things. The document reviewed by CNBC shows that morale was skyrocketing before the pack’s confirmation.
A person familiar with outreach for the Biden transition argued that morale, some packs promised to raise new heights, hit new lows.