The Trump administration’s State Department and National Public Radio are at odds over the content of a recent interview between NPR reporter and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which led to the suspension of a different NPR employer from covering Pompeo’s upcoming trip to Central Asia and Europe.
The initial controversy between NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly and Pompeo centered around his objection to Kelly’s line of questions in the course of their meeting. Pompeo claimed Kelly baited him into an interview with the promise she would only ask questions about Iran and that their conversation would be off the record.
The questions Kelly asked dealt with former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and why Pompeo had not publicly defended her during the impeachment proceedings. Kelly disagreed with Pompeo’s claim and said she never agreed to an off the record conversation. She also added that Pompeo berated her and asked her to point out where Ukraine was on a map, claims Pompeo also denied.
The State Department Correspondents’ Association said that the State Department removed NPR correspondent Michele Kelemen from Pompeo’s plane ahead of his international visits, which decision the correspondents’ association called an act of “retaliation” for Kelly’s spat with Pompeo. The association said, “The removal of Michele, who was in rotation as the radio pool reporter, comes days after Secretary Pompeo harshly criticized the work of an NPR host. We can only conclude that the State Department is retaliating against National Public Radio as a result of this exchange.” The association also pointed out that the State Department did not give a reason behind Kelemen’s removal from the plane.
The mainstream media criticized the State Department about Kelemen’s removal from the government plane, with outlets publishing stories on the Pompeo-Kelly feud which outlined their objections to the State Department’s move. NBC News, The Hill, CNN, the Washington Post and NPR published articles on the controversy.
However, none of the articles framed the relationship between the media and the Trump administration for the audience. Much of the Trump administration’s criticism and distrust of the media stemmed from the media’s lack of integrity in publishing “fake news” and the majority of journalists espousing liberal political views.