In the case of the VOA director, Pack had ousted a longtime career journalist as assistant director and replaced him with Robert Reilly, the author of books like Making Gay Okay: How the Rationalization of Homosexual Behavior Changes Everything and the Shutting Down the Muslim Mind.
Elez Biberaj, the former acting director, wrote at the time: "Attempts to trample on VOA's journalistic independence threatened to undermine our hard-won credibility at a time of global democratic relapse and increasing international threats to American values and moral leadership. "
With only a few days to go before the inauguration, Reilly pounded that point home by removing the White House reporter from VOA for daring to ask a few questions to then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pack's interim successor is Kelu Chao, a journalist who has been with VOA for decades and was involved in a whistleblowing case against Pack last fall when he was conducting a purge of USAGM executives. She has appointed longtime VOA journalist Yolanda Lopez as deputy director of VOA. Lopez was reassigned just last week as part of the disciplinary action against Pompeo.
These changes underscore the corruption of what Trump was trying to do. Biden didn't make new people or make big changes – he just produced career journalists who built their own careers at VOA. Team Trump's efforts to turn USAGM, and VOA into Trump mouthpieces, however, put these people's careers, often decades-long careers, at risk for failing the loyalty test.
The permanent head of the USAGM needs Senate approval.