Biden staff meets with former U.S. media company leaders, together with some ousted by Trump appointee


Former leaders of the U.S. Company for World Media have been assembly with members of Joe Biden’s transition staff to debate what has taken place on the federal media company beneath President Donald Trump — and what’s to come back for the group beneath the brand new regime.

Biden’s USAGM transition staff chief is Richard Stengel, an MSNBC political analyst and former managing editor at Time journal. He additionally served as beneath secretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs whereas a member of President Barack Obama’s administration.

These company assessment groups “are accountable for understanding the operations of every company, guaranteeing a easy switch of energy, and making ready for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cupboard to hit the bottom operating on Day One,” the Biden transition website says.

“By the shut of enterprise on Tuesday, company assessment groups made contact or met with over 50 companies and commissions together with every of the most important places of work inside the government workplace of the president,” Jen Psaki, a Biden transition advisor, instructed reporters on Wednesday.

A Biden transition spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for remark. Stengel didn’t reply to a request for remark by means of his NBC electronic mail.

The preliminary conversations recommend that Biden is seeking to reverse a lot of what was achieved to the company within the latter phases of the Trump administration. The president-elect has beforehand dedicated to eradicating Michael Pack, the Trump-appointed USAGM CEO.

Stengel and different members of Biden’s USAGM assessment staff have spoken with a number of the former company heads who had been ousted by Pack, in keeping with individuals with direct information of the matter. Shortly after he was confirmed by the Senate this summer time, Pack purged the USAGM’s community board members and leaders at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Center East Broadcasting Community and Radio Free Asia.

Those that declined to be named did so with a view to communicate freely.

The way in which the company has been run, each beneath Pack and CEOs earlier than him, has come up in these discussions, these individuals added. The deal with Pack has, partly, turned to the significance of bringing again the so-called “firewall” that Pack has moved to repeal. The “firewall” laws, according to USAGM network Voice of America, was “designed to shelter journalists from interference that would undermine their credibility.”

Past the removing of key USAGM leaders, Pack has been beneath siege by critics ever since he grew to become the company’s chief. National Public Radio just lately put collectively an in depth listing of issues that the company has confronted, together with lawsuits and claims of anti-Trump bias towards VOA’s White Home bureau chief.

Trump himself has publicly taken intention at VOA. Previous to taking the helm at USAGM, Pack was a conservative filmmaker and had ties to former White Home chief strategist Steve Bannon, as the two worked on two documentaries together.

One other Pack-related concern that was introduced as much as the Biden staff is the “curiosity in restoring stability” by the incoming administration, in keeping with one of many individuals with direct information. Names to switch Pack which were floated to Biden company assessment members embrace Grant Turner, who was as soon as USAGM’s appearing CEO, this particular person stated. There has additionally been dialogue about bringing again most of the different media heads who had been eliminated throughout Pack’s preliminary purge, this particular person added.

Stengel himself may be the following USAGM chief after heading the transition assessment staff.

Former USAGM CEO John Lansing, who’s at the moment president of Nationwide Public Radio, is among the many individuals who engaged with Stengel’s staff, in keeping with the individuals. Lansing left earlier than Pack arrived. The Biden staff additionally conferred with Steve Capus, a former senior advisor at USAGM, who was ousted at the start of Pack’s tenure.

Earlier than his position on the company, Capus had a 20-year profession at NBC, with stints because the president of NBC Information and as an government producer of NBC Nightly Information with Tom Brokaw. He later was an government producer at CBS Information, his LinkedIn web page says.

A spokeswoman for NPR didn’t deny that Lansing spoke to Biden’s transition staff and declined to remark additional. Capus didn’t reply to repeated requests for remark.

One of many paperwork that was given to Stengel’s staff is titled the “VOA Transformation,” one other particular person defined. It particulars, amongst different issues, the morale at Voice of America simply earlier than Pack took over the company. The doc, reviewed by CNBC, means that morale was skyrocketing on the community previous to Pack’s affirmation.

An individual aware of the outreach to the Biden transition argued that morale, something Pack promised to raise to new heights, has hit new lows.