State Dept. Bans NPR Reporter on Flight01/28 06:56
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department has denied a National Public Radio
reporter a seat aboard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's plane for an upcoming
trip to Europe and Central Asia, the decision coming a few days after Pompeo
lashed out at another NPR reporter.
NPR said in a statement Monday that correspondent Michele Kelemen wasn't
given a reason for being barred from the flight. The State Department declined
The State Department Correspondents' Association said the decision to deny
Kelemen a seat on Pompeo's plane led it to conclude that "the State Department
is retaliating" against NPR. The group asked the agency to reconsider and allow
Kelemen to join Pompeo.
In an interview Friday, Pompeo responded testily when NPR reporter Mary
Louise Kelly asked him about Ukraine and, specifically, whether he defended or
should have defended Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador in Kyiv
whose ouster figured in President Donald Trump's impeachment.
Kelly said that after the NPR interview she was taken to Pompeo's private
living room, where he shouted at her "for about the same amount of time as the
interview itself" and cursed repeatedly.
Pompeo responded Saturday that Kelly had "lied" to him, and he called her
conduct "shameful." NPR said it stood by Kelly's reporting.
In its statement Monday, the correspondents' group said Kelemen "is a
consummate professional who has covered the State Department for nearly two
decades. We respectfully ask the State Department to reconsider and allow
Michele to travel on the plane for this trip."
Ben Wizner, director of the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project for the
American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement: "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