Pompeo: Booting NPR Reporter From Press Pool Sends ‘A Perfect Message’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appears with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto (not pictured) at the foreign ministry on February 11, 2019 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Laszlo Balogh/Getty images)
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February 2, 2020 4:20 p.m.

During his trip to Kazakhstan Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied that a “confrontation interview” was behind his decision to boot an NPR reporter from his travel press pool.

Last month, Pompeo berated NPR “All Things Considered” co-host Mary Louise Kelly for asking him about the Ukraine scandal during an interview. Following Pompeo’s public statement that accused Kelly of lying, NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen was booted from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s traveling press pool for his upcoming trip to Ukraine.

“I didn’t have a confrontational interview with an NPR reporter any more than I have confrontational interviews all the time in America,” Pompeo said. “That’s the greatness of our nation. Reporters like yourself ask me any question, all questions, we take hundreds and hundreds of questions. We talk openly. We express our views, they ask their questions. That’s how we proceed in America.”

Pompeo added that “with respect to who travels with me, I always bring a big press contingent, but we ask for certain sets of behaviors.”

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“And that’s simply telling the truth and being honest, and when they’ll do that, they get to participate,” Pompeo said. “And if they don’t, it’s just not appropriate — frankly, it’s not fair to the rest of the journalists who are participating alongside of them.”

When asked what kind of message his behavior toward NPR sends, Pompeo replied that “it’s a perfect message about press freedoms.”

Watch Pompeo’s remarks below:

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