David Folkenflik | WAMC

David Folkenflik

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A federal inspector general's investigation has exonerated six government executives who were suspended last year after raising red flags about actions taken by then-President Donald Trump's appointee at the parent agency of the Voice of America.

The State Department inspector general's reports, reviewed by NPR, say U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack and his closest aides appeared to have targeted the executives for reprisal.

On consecutive nights this week, Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson has alleged that the National Security Agency — charged with monitoring communications abroad to keep the U.S. safe — is spying on him in hopes of getting his top-rated show canceled.

"We heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them to take this show off the air," Carlson said Monday night.

Updated June 30, 2021 at 8:45 PM ET

Trustees for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill voted Wednesday afternoon at a closed session to give tenure to star New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones several months after refusing to consider her proposed tenure.

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NPR has named the fourth host for one of its defining shows, Morning Edition: A Martínez will become the network's newest voice at a time when it is trying to attract more Latino listeners. He comes from Southern California Public Radio, where he has been a leading presence for the past nine years.

"I'm just super-stoked that NPR called me, and that NPR picked me," Martínez says. "I can't wait to meet America."

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Updated May 21, 2021 at 2:13 PM ET

The New York-based hedge fund Alden Global Capital – known for slashing its newspapers' budgets to extract escalated profits – won shareholder approval Friday for its $633 million bid to acquire the Tribune Publishing newspaper chain.

Of all the disruptions unleashed by the Trump White House on how the federal government typically works, the saga of one small project, called the Open Technology Fund, stands out.

The fantastical tale incorporates the spiritual movement Falun Gong, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, the daughter of a late liberal congressman and a zealous appointee of former President Donald Trump.

Updated March 30, 2021 at 10:44 PM ET

Lachlan Murdoch, the Fox Corp. CEO and executive chairman, has departed Los Angeles and returned to Australia with his wife and children, according to three people with ties to the Murdoch family.

His move comes at a time when the company's most profitable property is confronting daunting challenges: Fox News currently faces two new defamation lawsuits from election machine and software companies seeking combined damages of $4.3 billion.

Early last June, the Open Technology Fund was scrambling for survival. The nonprofit fosters technology that enables people who live under repressive regimes to communicate securely. It is wholly dependent on the U.S. government for money. And the new CEO of the federal agency that subsidizes the fund had declared war on it.

Last summer, an appointee of former President Donald Trump was irate because he could not simply fire top executives who had warned him that some of his plans might be illegal.

Michael Pack, who was CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media that oversees Voice of America, in August suspended those top executives. He also immediately ordered up an investigation to determine what wrongdoing the executives might have committed.

Conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh, who entertained millions and propelled waves of Republican politicians, has died at age 70. He had announced to listeners last year that he had stage four lung cancer.

Limbaugh's death Wednesday morning was confirmed by his wife, Kathryn, at the start of his radio program.

Nabila Ganinda was awaiting a green light from the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

Two widely heralded journalists for The New York Times departed the paper Friday after unrelated episodes of their past behavior received sharp new scrutiny from other media outlets, readers and colleagues.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

Election technology company Smartmatic filed a massive lawsuit Thursday against Fox News, saying the network and some of its biggest on-air personalities made it into a villain and perpetuated false claims about the recent election.

The suit names Fox stars Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, as well as Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

Updated Saturday at 1:23 p.m. ET

The acting CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media continued her sweep of federally funded international broadcasters to remove leaders linked to former President Donald Trump.

The new president of the federally funded Radio Free Asia network most recently ran a consulting company from Boise, Idaho that has represented foreign governments and interests. Among them is Taiwan.

That connection has startled veterans of the international broadcaster.

"Are you serious?" said Libby Liu, who led Radio Free Asia for 14 years. "I don't think it's appropriate for a registered lobbyist for a foreign government to be leading a free-press organization, even democracies we support and admire."

Voice of America White House reporter Patsy Widakuswara was reassigned Monday evening just hours after pressing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on whether he regretted saying there would be a second Trump administration after President-elect Joe Biden's victory was apparent.

Updated 9:48 a.m. ET

An influential group of more than 20 public radio stations in major cities across the country are condemning the actions of The New York Times and its star host of the hit podcast The Daily, Michael Barbaro, in addressing the collapse of the newspaper's award-winning audio series Caliphate.

An internal review by The Times found it had failed to heed red flags indicating that the man it relied upon for an extended narrative about the allure of terrorism could not be trusted to tell the truth.

Updated at 7:35 p.m. ET

Fresh crises and fresh challenges confront the Trump-appointed CEO of the parent of Voice of America, even with less than two weeks left of the Trump presidency.

To start, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia this week accused U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack of illegally funneling more than $4 million to his private documentary company through a not-for-profit that he also controls.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Michael Pack's stormy tenure over the federal agency that oversees government-funded broadcasters abroad — including Voice of America — appears to be coming to a close. Yet President Trump's appointee has sparked an internal outcry by taking bold steps to try to cement his control over at least two of the networks and shape the course of their journalism well into the Biden administration.

Late last week, The New York Times issued one of its biggest mea culpas in years. The nation's leading newspaper returned a Peabody award and a citation as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize after retracting the core of its hit podcast series Caliphate.

In seeking to restore faith in its journalism, however, The Times may have demonstrated the persistence of some of the problems at the heart of this scandal. The paper's top editor participated in a podcast to help correct the record and to say, as he put it, "we got it wrong."

Updated at 9:33 p.m. ET

The New York Times has retracted the core of its hit 2018 podcast series Caliphate after an internal review found the paper failed to heed red flags indicating that the man it relied upon for its narrative about the allure of terrorism could not be trusted to tell the truth.

The newspaper has reassigned its star terrorism reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, who hosted the series.

Robert R. Reilly is taking the reins at the Voice of America with extreme, publicly stated views on some subjects that may complicate his mission of sharing news and U.S. values with vast audiences around the globe.

Updated at 12:08 a.m. ET on Wednesday

The Trump appointee who runs the government's overseas broadcasters reassigned the head of the Voice of America on Tuesday as part of a broad effort to install supporters of the president before the Biden administration comes to power.

U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack is intending to name as VOA director Robert Reilly, an outspoken conservative ally who briefly served in the job under President George W. Bush nearly two decades ago.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a federal watchdog, disclosed Wednesday that it had found "a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing" at the parent agency of the Voice of America under the leadership of the CEO appointed by President Trump.

Updated at 3:03 p.m.

Right now, Newsmax TV is trying to outfox Fox News.

No media outlet has done more to bolster President Trump over the past four years than Fox News. Yet the acknowledgment by Fox's reporters, anchors and even many opinion hosts that Democratic nominee Joe Biden won the election has provided an opening for the network's much smaller rival to peel off Trump's fans.

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