Two spokesmen for the White House said a voice had been re-appointed by a US reporter after he tried to ask Secretary of State Mike Pompeo questions at an event at VOA headquarters.
Batsy Vidakuswara, who has covered the White House for VOA since 2018, gave a speech on Monday and shouted questions at Pompeo as he sat down for a question and answer session hosted by VOA Director Robert Reilly.
Reilly, a former VOA director and conservative commentator, was named last month to lead the broadcaster, Michael Pack, head of the US organization for global media overseeing VOA and other government-funded media. Pack led the uprising in the agency marked by provocations by senior managers, court wars and bipartisan criticism from Congress and condemnation of press freedom groups.
At the end of the live broadcast of Pompeo’s appearance, Vidaguswara was able to hear a question, and when she left the VOA building in Washington she tried to ask him questions again.
A Video Posted on his Twitter account, you can ask Vidaguswara We ask What is Pompeo doing to mend American reputation after the pro-Trump mob attacked Capitol last week, if he regrets that there will be a second Trump term after the election.
The video says that Pompeo did not answer his questions when he left.
Vidakuswara was fired from his White House job on Monday and is scheduled to be a radio pool reporter on Air Force One for a scheduled trip on Tuesday. The VOA ordered him not to go on the trip, two VOA journalists who were well aware of the matter told NBC News.
A VOA spokesman did not comment on the matter. Vidaguswara did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his re-appointment, which was initially reported by NPR and The. Washington Post.
Pompeo came to Pack’s defense in his speech on Monday, thanked his leadership and said the VOA had lost its way in describing the United States to foreign audiences.
“Its broadcasts were less about telling the truth about the United States and often were about denigrating the United States,” Pompeo said without giving examples in his speech.
“The Voice of America has lost its voice, but it is back on the road,” he said.
Members of Congress and current and former employees of the VOA, as well as US-funded broadcasters including Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, have launched pack journalists’ investigations and sought to turn sales outlets into Trump’s campaign vehicles.
A federal judge ruled against Pack in November, effectively barring him from making employee decisions in the media or interfering in editorial proceedings. In October, a Washington, D.C., High Court judge ruled that Pack had no authority to expel the management of the U.S.-funded nonprofit Open Technology Fund, which creates anti-censorship software and applications used by civil society groups and journalists in repressive countries.