(Washington, DC) – New documents show the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were told to ignore press requests from Voice of America, the government-funded broadcaster that the administration falsely accused of spreading Chinese propaganda this spring. That revelation came as the VOA’s director and deputy director resigned today from their posts following Senate approval of Michael Pack to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

“The running battle between the Trump White House and U.S. international public broadcasting, which apparently displeases the president with its professional approach to journalism, has also infected the CDC,” said Thomas O. Melia, Washington director of PEN America.

In April, the White House publicly criticized Voice of America, with President Trump falsely accusing VOA of mimicking Chinese propaganda and presenting biased statistics, when in fact VOA was citing highly credible data from Johns Hopkins University and reporting truthfully to the Chinese people about their own government’s attempts to conceal the truth about the pandemic.

“U.S. international media comprise a vital component of the nation’s public diplomacy effort, which seeks to combat disinformation and those fomenting violent extremism by bringing accurate news to audiences in countries where governments prevent independent professional journalism,” said PEN America’s Melia.

PEN America also noted with regret today’s resignation of Voice of America Director Amanda Bennett and Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara, less than two weeks after a new appointee to lead government broadcasting received Senate confirmation.

“While the newly confirmed CEO has the right to hire and fire certain executives, the abrupt departure of these two seasoned journalists will raise questions about the direction these important outlets will take going forward,” said Melia.