WASHINGTON — Two veteran journalists in charge of Voice of America, Amanda Bennett and Sandy Sugawara, resigned on Monday as a result of the recent congressional confirmation of a conservative activist and filmmaker to be the head of the agency that oversees the government broadcast organization.
President Trump has placed extraordinary pressure on Voice of America in recent months by personally denouncing its work and pushing Republicans in the Senate to confirm Michael Pack, the filmmaker. Mr. Pack, who is a close ally of Stephen K. Bannon, the former campaign strategist and White House adviser for Mr. Trump, was confirmed on June 4 by the Republican-controlled Senate. Democratic leaders had opposed Mr. Pack’s confirmation.
Many journalists at Voice of America and other organizations overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which Mr. Pack now leads as chief executive, have been nervous about Mr. Pack taking the reins and have asked whether he intends to maintain editorial independence from the White House and other parts of the government.
Voice of America is the largest American international media broadcast organization and receives funding from the U.S. government, but it is supposed to remain editorially independent of any federal agency. It was founded in 1942 to combat Nazi propaganda with straightforward news coverage and carried on its mission through the Cold War, when the U.S. government was most concerned about countering Soviet messaging. Authoritarian governments, including that of China, have denounced V.O.A. and often accuse it of being a propaganda arm of Washington.
On Monday morning, Ms. Bennett, the director of V.O.A. since 2016, and Ms. Sugawara, the deputy director, emailed a letter to employees saying they had just submitted their resignations to Mr. Pack. The letter did not say whether Mr. Pack had asked them to resign.
“As the Senate-confirmed C.E.O., he has the right to replace us with his own V.O.A. leadership,” they wrote.
“Nothing about you, your passion, your mission or your integrity changes,” they added. “Michael Pack swore before Congress to respect and honor the firewall that guarantees V.O.A.’s independence, which in turn plays the single most important role in the stunning trust our audiences around the world have in us.
“We know that each one of you will offer him all of your skills, your professionalism, your dedication to mission, your journalistic integrity and your personal hard work to guarantee that promise is fulfilled,” they wrote.
On Saturday, Ms. Bennett used her Twitter account to point out tweets by Voice of America employees revealing that a veteran reporter for the organization, Greta Van Susteren, and colleagues had been placed on a blacklist by press officers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of the recent campaign against V.O.A. by the White House.