How Trumpism Led To An Ideological War Over Voice Of America

In its very first broadcast, the U.S.-government-run service called Voice of America pledged honesty.

“The news may be good and it may be bad. We shall tell you the truth.”

The idea was to model a free press, especially for audiences in places that might not have one. Places where political parties and governments might pressure or intimidate journalists.

But over the past seven months, Voice of America and its federal parent organization, U.S. Agency for Global Media, have been caught in an ideological war. Employees say agency CEO Michael Pack, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, obsessed over staff loyalty and embraced conspiracy theories.

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik talked to more than 60 current and former staffers. He’s put together a comprehensive picture of Pack’s radical tenure.

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Biden Administration: ‘It Will Be Months’ Before Widespread Vaccine Availability

President Biden said Tuesday that the federal government’s vaccine distribution program is “in worse shape than we anticipated.” His administration’s coronavirus response team held its first public briefing on Wednesday where officials detailed plans to increase vaccine supply and capacity, but also said it will be months before anyone who wants a vaccine can get one.

The lack of supply has led to different challenges in different areas of the country. NPR gathered three reporters to learn more: Blake Farmer with Nashville Public Radio, Amelia Templeton with Oregon Public Broadcasting, and Veronica Zaragovia with WLRN in Miami.

Additional reporting this episode from Georgia Public Broadcasting‘s Grant Blankenskip, who reported on efforts by Georgia residents to get a vaccine.

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Deplatforming: Not A First Amendment Issue, But Still A Tough Call For Big Tech

Removing disinformation — and users who spread it — can come at a cost for web hosts and social media platforms. But studies indicate “deplatforming” does stem the flow of disinformation.

Kate Starbird with the University of Washington explains why it’s easier to see the effects of deplatforming in the short-term. And NPR’s Shannon Bond looks at how one growing social media site is dealing with new attention and new challenges.

Additional reporting in this episode from NPR’s Bobby Allyn, who’s reported on the removal of Parler by Amazon Web Services.

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‘We Have To Stop Rewarding Obstruction:’ Will Democrats Nuke The Filibuster?

Adam Jentleson knows firsthand how powerful a tool the filibuster can be — and what’s possible without it. He was deputy chief of staff to former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who was majority leader in 2013 when Democrats exercised “the nuclear option,” eliminating the filibuster for presidential appointees.

Now, Jentleson and a growing number of Democrats argue Senate leaders should eliminate the filibuster for legislation, which would enable Democrats to pass major legislation with a simple Senate majority, instead of the current 60-vote threshold. Jentleson lays out his argument in a recent book, Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy.

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BONUS: Breathe

Breathing is essential to life. And lately, the safety of the air we inhale, or the need to pause and take a deep breath, is on our minds a lot. In this episode of NPR’s TED Radio Hour, we explore the power of breath.

Guests include former world champion freediver Tanya Streeter, journalist Beth Gardiner, activist Yvette Arellano, paleontologist Emma Schachner, scent historian Caro Verbeek and mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe.

Listen to TED Radio Hour wherever you get your podcasts, including NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Spotify.

‘Battlefield Medicine’ In Los Angeles ICU As Biden Launches ‘Wartime Effort’

More than 400,000 Americans have been killed by the coronavirus. That’s more Americans than were killed in all of World War II, President Biden pointed out this week. He calls his new plan to fight the pandemic a “wartime effort.”

That effort begins with taking charge of a bottlenecked vaccine rollout. NPR pharmaceutical correspondent Sydney Lupkin reports on several factors that are slowing the process down. And NPR’s Yuki Noguchi explores why it may take some time for pharmacies to become major vaccine distribution sites.

The need for more vaccine is a national story, but the wait is especially excruciating in Los Angeles. NPR’s Leila Fadel visited one hospital pushed to the brink, where doctors compare their work to “battlefield medicine.”

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How President Biden’s Immigration Plan Would Undo Trump’s Signature Policies

President Biden followed through on a day-one promise to send a massive immigration reform bill to Congress. Now the hard part: passing that bill into law.

Muzaffar Chishti of New York University’s Migration Policy Institute explains the president’s plans — and the signal they send to other countries around the world.

Biden is also pursuing big changes in how the U.S. admits refugees. Corine Dehabey, an Ohio-based director of the refugee settlement organization Us Together, says families who’ve been separated for years are looking forward to reuniting.

Follow more of NPR’s immigration coverage from Southwest correspondent John Burnett.

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President Biden Hails ‘Democracy’s Day’ In Unprecedented Transfer Of Power

“Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew,” President Biden said in his inaugural address on Wednesday. “And America has risen to the challenge.”

Outgoing Vice President Pence was present for the inauguration of the 46th president. President Trump was not. He left the White House in the morning after an overnight issuance of commutations and pardons — including for Steve Bannon, his former adviser who was arrested on charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

NPR’s Franco Ordonez reports on what President Biden did during his first day in office.

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The 46th President: How Tragedy And Resilience Prepared Joe Biden To Meet A Moment

When Joe Biden takes the oath of office at noon ET on Wednesday, he will become the oldest president to ever hold the office. His journey to the White House spans nearly half a century in public life.

New Yorker writer Evan Osnos has written a book about that journey called Joe Biden: The Life, The Run, And What Matters Now. He explains how Biden’s deep “acquaintance with suffering” prepared him to meet the country at a moment of grief and loss.

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