Philip Nicolaides, the Voice of America official who called for the broadcasting agency to abandon its "tendency toward mush" and engage in anti-Soviet propaganda, is leaving his post as deputy program director for commentary and news analysis, VOA sources said yesterday.
A spokesman for VOA's parent organization, the International Communications Agency, said only that Nicolaides "has not formally left the Voice" and has been assigned, for now, to working on special projects for ICA Director Charles Z. Wick.
However, sources at VOA, where Nicolaides was the target of a staff petition calling for his ouster, said he has been away from his office for more than a week and had told various co-workers he was leaving because the "entrenched bureaucracy" was unwilling to adapt to his ideas.
The conservative weekly Human Events reports in its current issue that VOA chief James B. Conkling had forced Nicolaides out by denying him office staff and suppressing all but one of the scripts Nicolaides had prepared for broadcast.
Nicolaides, a former Houston radio commentator who had worked in the campaigns of several conservative politicians, became the subject of controversy in November, when The Washington Post published excerpts from a memo he had written outlining his views of VOA's mission.
In the memo he said VOA should "reverse the tendency toward mush that flowered in the previous administration," abandon the contention that it is "a journalistic enterprise of some sort" and function as "a propaganda agency" portraying the Soviet Union as "the last great predatory empire on earth."
That triggered the staff petition calling for cancellation of his appointment.
Conkling also said VOA would comply with its legislative charter to be a "reliable and authoritative source of news."
ICA officials said yesterday that Nicolaides had been assigned by Wick to work on Project Truth, an ICA-coordinated effort to counter Soviet "disinformation" tactics against the United States.