President Donald Trump again suggested starting his own global news network to “put some really talented people and get a real voice out there. Not a voice that is fake.”
His remarks were yet another slam at CNN, but also existing media outlets that are funded by the U.S. government, the largest of which is Voice of America. VOA’s mission is to provide an “objective and reliable source of U.S., regional and world news and information,” and is set up with a “firewall” to be free of political interference.
Speaking to a crowd in Florida on Thursday, though, Trump criticized those entities, which are overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media. Trump said that “we used to have Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. We did that to build up our country, and that is not working out too well.”
Instead, he said that CNN “seems to be a voice that is a voice out there, and it is a terrible thing for our country.”
“CNN outside of the United States is much more important than it is inside the United States,” Trump said.
Trump has suggested starting a state-run network before. Last year, he wrote on Twitter that “Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”
Voice of America, which has a budget of about $235 million, employs more than 1,000, and programs in more than 40 languages.
Trump also ridiculed media fact-checking, arguing that they don’t spot his embellishments. He said that when he once said that California Gov. Gavin Newsom wanted to give everyone a Rolls Royce, CNN said, “The president isn’t telling the truth.”
Trump has nominated Michael Pack, a documentary filmmaker, to serve as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, succeeding John Lansing, who resigned last month to serve as CEO of NPR. Pack has been CEO of the Claremont Institute and is a former executive for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He also has worked with Steve Bannon on two film projects and praised Bannon in an op ed that talked of the left’s monopoly on documentaries.
Jeff Shell, chairman of NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment, was on the Broadcast Board of Governors, which oversees the U.S. Agency, and resigned this week. A blog devoted to coverage of the broadcast entities, BBG-USAGM Watch, obtained Shell’s resignation letter to Trump, in which he wrote that the time was right to depart following Lansing’s resignation. He also wrote of the accomplishments they had made “while abiding by the ‘firewall’ that protects the full editorial independence of our journalists and networks, all of whom are required to at all times adhere to the highest professional standards of journalism.”
Trump’s longstanding gripes against the press and desire for his own news outlet prompted his establishment of a weekly webcast called Real News Update on July 30, 2017, garnering considerable attention, buzz and late-night TV jibes at the time. A version of the still-going Facebook webcast is hosted by daughter-in-law Lara Trump from a studio in Trump Tower and funded by the president’s re-election campaign.