The State Department barred members of traditional news outlets from covering a briefing with “faith-based media” on Monday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held the telephone briefing with reporters from religious media groups, but the State Department denied requests from mainstream outlets for a transcript of the call or a list of who had been invited to attend.
In a statement to CNN, a State Department spokesman said the phone meeting differed from typical “briefings and sprays” in that it was tailored for “audience-specific media.”
The Religious News Service, which attended the briefing and published an article about it, provided the clearest detail on the guest list.
“While it was not clear which outlets were part of the call, questions were asked by Religion News Service, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Algemeiner, World Magazine and The Leaven, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. America Magazine also participated in the call. Participants were not told that the call was limited to faith-based media,” RNS’s Emily McFarlan Miller reported.
According to RNS’s account, Pompeo promised that “people of all faiths will have ‘something to say’ about the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan the White House is expected to announce after Israel’s elections in two weeks.”
Former State Department spokesman John Kirby blasted the decision to hold the private briefing and shut out secular media organizations.
This is absolutely not OK. Cabinet officials are public servants. They work for us. When they speak to reporters on the record everything they say — in its entirety — needs to be released at the earliest appropriate time. That’s proper accountability. That’s what we deserve. https://t.co/OBJht2BaAK— John Kirby (@johnfkirby63) March 19, 2019
Trump, who last week signed Bibles while visiting tornado victims in Alabama, continued to wage war against what he terms the “Fake News Media” on Tuesday, reviving his characterization of the free press as an enemy not only of his administration, but of the country as a whole.
The Fake News Media has NEVER been more Dishonest or Corrupt than it is right now. There has never been a time like this in American History. Very exciting but also, very sad! Fake News is the absolute Enemy of the People and our Country itself!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2019
A devout evangelical Christian, Pompeo departed for a trip to the Middle East hours after the conclusion of Monday’s phone briefing, and was accompanied by the Christian Broadcasting Network’s chief political analyst, David Brody, as well as members of the mainstream media.
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