WASHINGTON DC, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian Voice of America (VOA) reporter Patsy Widakuswara, experienced a reversal of fortune over the past two weeks that was as turbulent as the transition from Donald Trump’s administration to his successor President Joe Biden.
Widakuswara was reinstated in the White House on Friday, January 22, more than two weeks after VOA Director Robert Reilly reassigned her for attempting to question former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an event at VOA’s offices in Washington, D.C on January 11.
Happy prof. news, I'm back to cover the WH for @voanews.
My reassignment on Jan. 11 after I pushed to question Mike Pompeo on the Capitol riots has been canceled, following the change of leadership in @USAGMgov, incl. VOA Dir. Robert Reilly & Dep. Dir. Elizabeth Robbins.
1/5— Patsy Widakuswara (@pwidakuswara) January 22, 2021
“Happy prof. news, I'm back to cover the WH for @voanews. My reassignment on Jan. 11 after I pushed to question Mike Pompeo on the Capitol riots has been canceled, following the change of leadership,” Widakuswara wrote on her Twitter account last Friday.
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The 46-year old veteran reporter’s reinstatement to the White House “comes a day after President Biden asked for the resignation of Michael Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media [USAGM],” according to The Hill media website.
The Hill also noted that VOA “had a chaotic four years under former President Trump, with at least 20 VOA employees filing for whistleblower protections after fighting changes at the agency.”
Their resistance peaked earlier this month, when some reporters protested the live broadcast of a speech by Pompeo. Reporters were not allowed to ask questions at the event, which many viewed as propaganda.
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The former Secretary of State touted “American exceptionalism” in his speech and criticized VOA for not covering the Trump administration in a positive light. “It’s not fake news for you to broadcast that this is the greatest nation the world has ever known,” Pompeo said.
“I’m not saying ignore our faults. Acknowledge them. But this isn’t the Vice of America, focusing on everything that’s wrong with our great nation. It certainly isn’t the place to give authoritarian regimes in Beijing or Tehran a platform.”
After the event, Widakuswara attempted to question Pompeo over his statement about “second Trump administration” as he was exiting VOA’s headquarters. She was reassigned from the White House shortly afterwards.
The Biden administration removed Pack, Reilly and the latter’s deputy Elizabeth Robbins from their posts at USAGM, which is the hub for VOA, due to their ties to the Trump presidency.
The administration also appointed senior VOA journalist Kelu Chao as the interim head of USAGM following the purge of former Trump-appointed officials.
(Writer/Editor: Danur Lambang Pristiandaru)
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