Following a spat Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had with a reporter from NPR over what he claimed were multiple instances of dishonesty, a different NPR reporter was prevented by State Department officials from traveling with a group of journalists on an upcoming trip to Europe and Central Asia that is set to include Ukraine, according to The Hill.
NPR expressed its frustration that Michele Kelemen was removed from the group and suggested that Trump’s administration was engaging in “intimidation” by doing so.
The ACLU accused the State Department of violating free speech by taking Kelemen out of the press pool for the trip. “The State Department cannot retaliate against a news outlet because one of its reporters asked tough questions. It is the job of reporters to ask the tough questions, not be polite company,” said a statement by Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.
The controversy began when Pompeo accused NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly of lying to him both before and after he granted her an interview.
Pompeo: NPR reporter lied
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice,” he said in a statement after Kelly said on air Saturday that the two had argued. “First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record.”
“It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency,” he continued, calling the incident “another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration.”
NPR said that Keleman was not given a reason for her removal from the journalist group but assumed that it was related to Pompeo’s altercation with Kelly.
Kelly told her co-host on All Things Considered that Pompeo swore at her and challenged her to find Ukraine on a blank map, something she claims to have done successfully. Pompeo allegedly insinuated that she in fact misidentified the small country.
“It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,” Pompeo declared.
Unrelenting media hostility
Outside of certain Fox News personalities and a few other conservative news outlets, the press has been consistently hostile to President Donald Trump and anyone who supports him publicly, including those who work in his administration.
It all begs the question of just how much openly nasty treatment Trump and his staff should be expected to take without distancing themselves from those who are clearly looking for a “gotcha” moment and are willing to lie to get one.
As tempting as it surely has been to simply kick everyone but Fox out years ago, Trump and his team have done their best to play ball with the blatantly biased and chronically unfair media establishment, even when its representatives have failed to earn such consideration.