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Updated: Reporters Committee statement on U.S. State Department actions against NPR

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  1. Newsgathering
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a press conference

On Monday, the U.S. State Department notified NPR reporter Michele Kelemen that she had been removed from the press pool covering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming overseas trip. The State Department’s decision came days after Pompeo publicly attacked NPR host Mary Louise Kelly following an interview and verbal confrontation with her on Friday.

Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, issued the following statement:

“Suspending NPR from traveling with the State Department press pool apparently in retaliation for coverage is unwise on many levels. It’s not just that it would be illegal to punish particular news outlets in this way, or that it disregards the public’s interest in understanding what our diplomats do overseas, or that it’s uniquely shocking because of the State Department’s mission to promote U.S. values around the world. The point that the government misses is that trying to intimidate the press inevitably backfires.

“Other reporters will ask the questions the Secretary would prefer to avoid. The law protects them to do this in an environment free from official reprisal, as the State Department surely knows. It should immediately correct course.”

On Jan. 27, in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement following an interview with NPR host Mary Louise Kelly, Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown said:

“It’s deeply alarming that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who as the nation’s top diplomat is charged with protecting press freedom around the world, is using his position to attempt to intimidate reporters and to sow public distrust in a news outlet here at home.”

The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.