White House reporter Patsy Widakuswara posted a video of herself questioning Pompeo about the mob attack by Trump supporters.
Voice of America management has come under fire after reassigning a reporter who tried to ask Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a question about the deadly riot on the United States Capitol last week.
Pompeo slammed the taxpayer-funded outlet in a speech Monday at its headquarters, where he answered questions from VOA executives appointed by President Donald Trump – but not his reporters.
VOA White House reporter Patsy Widakuswara posted a video of herself asking Pompeo as he left the building to talk about the mob attack by Trump supporters last week during ‘a session of Congress that certified the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
Pompeo did not answer or acknowledge the question. He last held a press conference on Nov. 10, when he claimed there would be a “second Trump administration” despite Biden’s election victory, although he has since admitted defeat.
The White House Correspondents Association said Widakuswara was taken out of time before Trump’s Tuesday visit to Texas, which she was tasked with covering.
The main Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory Meeks and Michael McCaul, urged the VOA to reinstate her “in the absence of a legitimate reason”.
“We are in the United States of America – we are not punishing our journalists for seeking answers to their questions,” they said in a joint statement. “A free and fair press is at the heart of our Constitution and our democracy.”
Zeke Miller, chairman of the White House Correspondents Association, said Widakuswara’s reassignment “is an affront to the very ideals Secretary of State Pompeo spoke of in his speech.”
A VOA spokesperson said the outlet “does not comment on internal staff matters.”
Pompeo in his speech accused VOA of “putting America down” until Trump shakes his leadership, and he urged the broadcaster to say how the United States “is the greatest nation in the history of the world and the greatest nation civilization has ever known ”. .
Through a whistleblower complaint, some staff objected to Pompeo’s speech, saying it was propaganda for the outgoing administration if there were no questions to reporters .
Michael Pack, a conservative documentary producer appointed by Trump to oversee VOA, has expressed hope of ending a long-standing firewall against editorial interference in coverage, but President-elect Joe Biden’s new team has announced his intention to fire him.
Trump’s White House has publicly criticized VOA for not ringing the administration line and for its coverage of COVID-19 in China.