White House Eyes Bannon Ally for Top Broadcasting Post

Politico reports the Trump administration’s leading candidate to head the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a position that with recent changes would give the appointee unilateral power over the United States’ government messaging abroad reaching millions, is a conservative documentarian with ties to White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Steve Bannon is pictured. | Getty

The BBG controls Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and the Middle East Broadcast Network, which constitutes the largest public diplomacy program by the U.S. government, reaching an audience of 278 million by broadcasting in 100 countries and 61 languages.

Michael Pack, the leading contender for the post, is president and CEO of the Claremont Institute and publisher of its Claremont Review of Books, a California-based conservative institute that has been called the “academic home of Trumpism” by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The recent changes in BBG management are “a really big deal because the board of governors really represents the firewall. And the firewall is a legally mandated firewall which prevents the government from interfering with the editorial independence of the BBG,“ the senior official said. "Once President Trump appoints Pack or anyone else and when or if they’re confirmed by the Senate, then the entire board of governors goes away.”

A Republican government official familiar with the agency’s work told POLITICO in December that abolishing the board will make the BBG susceptible to the influence of Trump’s allies. Under the new arrangement, the board of governors will be replaced by an advisory panel. Once confirmed, the new CEO could hire his or her own directors for the five networks under BBG and theoretically push whatever message he or she chose without the board’s approval.