Mary Louise Kelly, a co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” felt the full force of the Trump administration’s media hatred during an interview last week with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The State Department’s top official:

  • Snarked at Kelly in a brief interview, balking at answering questions about Ukraine and insisting that they were off-limits. Kelly clarified that she’d cleared the topic with Pompeo’s staff.
  • Cut short the interview in frustration.
  • Leaned toward Kelly and glared at her.
  • Invited Kelly into another room and berated her, using expletives.
  • Attempted to humiliate her by asking her to locate Ukraine on an unmarked map.
  • And released this statement after NPR reported on the events:
NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record. It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration. It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.
It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.

NPR and Kelly stood by their reporting and geography.

On Sunday, NPR correspondent Michele Kelemen learned that she’d been removed from a press pool set to travel with Pompeo on a trip to five countries. On Wednesday, NPR Chief Executive Officer John Lansing and Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director Nancy Barnes sent a letter to Pompeo seeking official confirmation of Kelemen’s removal — and a reversal of the decision, should it prove to be the case. “If we do not receive a satisfactory response from you justifying this decision before tomorrow, when the Trip is scheduled to depart, we … will have no choice but to conclude that Ms. Kelemen was removed from the Trip in retaliation for the content of NPR’s reporting.” That language is a clear warning that First Amendment-based litigation — of the sort that prevailed against the White House in the cases of Jim Acosta and Brian Karem — could be in the offing.

Relations between Washington reporters and public officials have been adversarial forever — as they must be. Pompeo’s conduct transcends this history in the direction of the gutter. His conduct toward Kelly was abusive and demeaning to the point that you have to wonder: How could he possibly get away with it?

The answer to that question came in a White House event on Tuesday to introduce the administration’s Middle East peace plan. Pompeo was, of course, in attendance. After President Trump introduced him, attendees generated a boisterous round of applause. “That’s impressive,” remarked Trump. “That was very impressive. That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you yesterday. I think you did a good job on her, actually.”

Abuse away, Cabinet members.

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