Steve Bannon is no longer in the White House but he is still clearly influencing Donald Trump. CNN is reporting that Donald Trump intends to nominate one of Steve Bannon’s buddies, a conservative filmmaker, to take over U.S. media agencies and presumably “shape” (i.e. propagandize) the news.
Late Friday, the White House announced its intent to nominate Michael Pack, a former president of the conservative Claremont Institute, to lead the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The board controls US government-funded media outlets like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe and is considered the country’s largest public diplomacy program. It reaches an audience of 278 million in more than 100 countries and 61 languages.
Voice of America alone reaches 236 million people worldwide. Conservatives feel like those outlets aren’t friendly enough to Donald Trump and they want a hand in taking over public broadcasting, shaping their own messages to the world.
Once Pack takes over, the structure of the BBG governance changes.
Should Pack be confirmed, he’d have more unilateral power over the agency because of a provision enacted in the last weeks of the Obama administration that would disband the bipartisan board in favor of an advisory board, which supporters saw as a firewall between the administration and the agency. Proponents promoted the move as one to make the organization more efficient.
Beyond Pack, there are others who feel Bannon’s influence has already reached deep into the agency.
A Trump appointee already working in the BBG, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a former investigative reporter who has ties to Bannon, has told colleagues that his goal is to turn the agency into a “Bannon legacy,” according to three sources within or familiar with the agency.
This is a nomination that must be stopped. Pack and Bannon could re-shape news coverage and further damage America’s standing around the world.