The acting director of Voice of America was reassigned on Tuesday, as part of what is most likely a broader bid to install loyalists for President Trump at the news outlet before the Biden administration takes over, two people familiar with the decision said.
Michael Pack, the chief executive of the outlet’s parent agency, U.S. Agency for Global Media, and a conservative filmmaker with ties to the former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, informed the acting director, Elez Biberaj, earlier on Tuesday that he would be removed from his role.
Mr. Biberaj will return to his previous job as the director of the Eurasia desk at Voice of America. One official said that Robert R. Reilly, a conservative author who was the director of Voice of America in the Bush administration, was likely to succeed Mr. Biberaj.
Mr. Biberaj, who has worked at Voice of America for over 40 years, was named its acting director in June.
As chief of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Mr. Pack oversees federally funded news outlets including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
Once he was appointed, he moved quickly to fire the chiefs of the four news outlets and an internet technology nonprofit under his oversight. He also replaced the bipartisan board that supervises the organizations with allies of the Trump administration.
In October, Mr. Pack said he was rescinding a firewall rule that protects news outlets funded by the government, including Voice of America, from federal tampering. A lawsuit filed by five officials suspended by Mr. Pack asserted that Mr. Pack or his aides had interrogated Voice of America journalists who had been critical of Mr. Pack. A federal judge recently ruled that Mr. Pack’s attempts to breach the firewall were unconstitutional.
Mr. Biberaj has not openly criticized Mr. Pack, but he has issued statements in recent months saying that “editorial independence and journalistic integrity free of political interference are the core elements that sustain V.O.A. and make us America’s voice.”
His likely successor, Mr. Reilly, has written against Islam and gay rights, publishing a book called “Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything.”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is likely to replace Mr. Pack once he assumes office, agency officials said. But Mr. Reilly may be harder to remove if language in the National Defense Authorization Act, a defense spending bill passed by the House, is signed into law that requires the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s chief executive to gain approval from an advisory board before replacing the head of a media network under their purview.