The State Department booted an NPR reporter off of a trip with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after Pompeo attacked the outlet over an interview he didn’t like.
The State Department Correspondents’ Association told NBC News that NPR correspondent Michele Kelemen was removed from Pompeo’s plane to Europe.
"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 organization said in a statement.
The State Department did not provide a reason Kelemen would not be allowed on the trip, an NPR spokesman told NBC.
Pompeo feuds with NPR:
The move to boot Kelemen off the trip came after Pompeo got into a spat with NPR host Mary Louise Kelly, who pressed him about Ukraine during an interview.
After the interview, Kelly said Pompeo “shouted at her” and repeatedly “used the F-word.”
“He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away,” she said. “He said, ‘people will hear about this.’”
Pompeo accused Kelly of lying that the interview would be limited to Ukraine and suggested she pointed to Bangladesh instead of Ukraine on the map, but emails show that Pompeo’s staff was fully informed several times that Kelly would ask about Ukraine and posed no objections.
NPR CEO hits out at Pompeo:
NPR CEO John Lansing said that the “statement from the secretary of state is blatantly false.”
“He did not dispute the facts as she reported them based on the conversation that occurred after the interview when he had the expletive-filled rage,” he said. “I think that's important to point out. I think it's also important to point out that Mary Louise Kelly has an email chain with Katie Martin, an aide to the secretary of state, confirming that she would be discussing Ukraine. So that's a provably false statement. And it's also important to point out that no journalist would agree to go behind closed doors with the secretary of state and agree to go off the record. That would just be something no honorable journalist would do.”