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David Folkenflik

Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET

There may be no media figure more important in preparing Republicans and President Trump himself for a post-Trump period than magnate Rupert Murdoch.

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Twenty years ago this week, I begged my bosses to stop the presses so we could avoid reporting a huge story that wasn't true: that Texas Gov. George W. Bush had won Florida, and the presidency.

In the final stretch of a tough reelection campaign, a president who burst into public consciousness as a media sensation has returned to the warm embrace of conservative media outlets and their stars.

And they have been returning the favor: giving airtime to President Trump and broadcasting his rallies, and hammering Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, his family and his allies.

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A regulatory "firewall" intended to protect Voice of America and its affiliated newsrooms from political interference in their journalism was swept aside late Monday night by the chief executive of the federal agency which oversees the government's international broadcasters.

It is a classic moment in the weeks before Election Day: a news outlet runs a front-page exclusive promising scandalous revelations about a big-ticket candidate.

This week, the New York Post published a story based on what it says are emails — "smoking gun" emails, it calls them — sent by a Ukrainian business executive to the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The story fits snugly into a narrative from President Trump and his allies that Hunter Biden's zealous pursuit of business ties abroad also compromised the former vice president.

A District of Columbia Superior Court judge has ruled that the U.S. Agency for Global Media's CEO, Michael Pack, acted unlawfully in seizing control of a fund designed to sponsor initiatives to ensure people living under repressive regimes have free and safe access to the Internet.

The Open Technology Fund helped to underwrite the development of Tor and Signal, technologies that let people access the Web and communicate securely and privately, even in countries like Iran and China that highly regulate such activities.

Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, is proposing new legislation to outlaw political pressure on journalists at the Voice of America and other U.S. government-funded networks.

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Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET, Fri. Oct 9

Five suspended officials at the U.S. Agency for Global Media are suing the agency, its new CEO and several of his most senior aides, alleging they are breaking the law — routinely — in pursuing a pro-Trump agenda for the Voice of America news service.

The acting director of the Voice of America said Monday night that he would reject any outside or political pressure on his newsroom's coverage following news reports that two pro-Trump political appointees at the VOA's parent agency had investigated the news service's White House bureau chief and accused him of anti-Trump bias.

Two political appointees at the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America recently investigated one of its most prominent journalists to make the case he was biased against President Trump.

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Tucker Carlson appears to be made of Teflon. Fox News' top-rated host has been repeatedly accused of anti-immigrant and racist comments, which have cost his political opinion show many of its major advertisers. Yet Carlson endures in his prime-time slot.

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The CEO appointed by President Trump to lead the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded international broadcasters has made strict protocols for scrutinizing job candidates a hallmark of his brief tenure there. CEO Michael Pack suspended a slew of senior executives at the U.S. Agency for Global Media and stopped routinely renewing visas for foreign employees over hiring protocols, claiming the executives' lapses threatened national security.

At the Voice of America, staffers say the Trump appointee leading their parent agency is threatening to wash away legal protections intended to insulate their news reports from political meddling.

"What we're seeing now is the step-by-step and wholescale dismantling of the institutions that protect the independence and the integrity of our journalism," says Shawn Powers, until recently the chief strategy officer for the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA.

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A group of veteran journalists for the Voice of America delivered a letter of protest Monday denouncing their parent agency's new CEO, Michael Pack, and alleging Pack's remarks in a recent interview prove he has a damaging agenda for the international broadcasters he oversees.

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