January 14, 2021

Menendez Joins Calls Demanding VOA Director’s Resignation

VOA Director Robert Reilly demoted senior correspondent for asking Secretary Pompeo about the seditious attack on the U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement joining the growing calls for Voice of America (VOA) Director Robert Reilly to resign after he demoted senior White House correspondent Patsy Widakuswara for asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the seditious attack on the U.S. Capitol. Widakuswara questioned Secretary Pompeo after he delivered a speech to Voice of America (VOA) employees in which he accused VOA reporters of “demeaning America” with their journalism.

“Instead of standing up for his staff as they were being openly pressured to cover the Trump administration in a positive light, Director Reilly allowed Secretary Pompeo to continue demonstrating this Administration simply does not believe in the integrity of the USAGM’s work and has no respect for the role of a free press in our democracy.

“Government intimidation of and retaliation against journalists is odious and deserves condemnation, not replication. Yet that is just what Mr. Reilly did when he decided to punish a senior VOA correspondent for doing nothing but her job—posing hard questions to powerful people.

“The Voice of America has a mission to broadcast America to the world; particularly in places where free press is quashed and dictators push anti-American propaganda. All Mr. Reilly sent was a chilling message to journalists all over the world and comfort to autocrats who want nothing more than to silence dissent.

“As the incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I join the dozens of brave VOA employees who have openly called on Director Reilly to resign—his actions have no place at the VOA, nor in the United States of America.” 

Earlier today, a group of 24 current VOA employees wrote an open letter calling for the resignation of VoA Leadership to step down following Secretary Pompeo’s speech on Monday. 

 

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Juan Pachon