Jan 29, 2020

NPR reporter defends 1st Amendment rights after Mike Pompeo encounter

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly authored a New York Times op-ed Tuesday about her encounter with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and why she's refused to back down on her reporting.

What she's saying: "There is a reason that freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution," Kelly said. "There is a reason it matters that people in positions of power — people charged with steering the foreign policy of entire nations — be held to account. The stakes are too high for their impulses and decisions not to be examined in as thoughtful and rigorous an interview as is possible."

Flashback: Kelly's scuffle with Pompeo went viral last week after the reporter made details public. Kelly said Pompeo shouted at her in his private living room following an interview Friday in which she asked questions about the ouster of former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. She said he also made her point to Ukraine on an unmarked map.

  • Pompeo released a statement saying that Kelly had lied to him when setting up the interview and that she'd agreed to keep the post-interview conversation off the record.
  • NPR's senior vice president of news Nancy Barnes defended Kelly, stating: "Mary Louise Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report."
  • The State Department later removed a different NPR journalist from a reporting pool set to travel with Pompeo.

Kelly wrote in her op-ed: "Journalists don’t sit down with senior government officials in the service of scoring political points. We do it in the service of asking tough questions, on behalf of our fellow citizens. And then sharing the answers — or lack thereof — with the world."

  • Axios has contacted the State Department for comment.

Go deeper: Trump to Pompeo: "You did a good job on" NPR reporter

Go deeper

Pompeo says denying credentials to NPR sends "perfect message about press freedoms"

Photo: Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the State Department's decision to deny NPR press credentials for his trip to Europe following his confrontation with reporter Mary Louise Kelly, stating in an interview in Kazakhstan Sunday that it sends "a perfect message about press freedoms" to the world.

The backdrop: In an NPR interview in January, Kelly pressed Pompeo about his reluctance to defend former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch after she was the victim of a smear campaign. After the interview ended, Kelly says Pompeo took her into his private living room and berated her, asking if she could even find Ukraine on a map.

John Kelly: Impeachment without witnesses "seems like a half trial"

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Friday that the Senate impeachment proceedings for President Trump seem "like a half trial" without witnesses, according to NJ.com.

Context: Kelly's statement comes on the same day the New York Times detailed a portion of former national security adviser John Bolton's unpublished book in which he reportedly writes that Trump asked Bolton to ensure that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would meet with Rudy Giuliani. Kelly described Bolton as a "copious note taker" and "an honest guy and an honorable guy."

Trump fires back at John Kelly: He "just can't keep his mouth shut"

Hours after former White House chief of staff John Kelly unleashed broad criticism of President Trump's policy decisions, the president fired back, saying that Kelly "misses the action" and "just can’t keep his mouth shut" in a pair of Thursday tweets.

The big picture: At a New Jersey event, Kelly said that Trump's decision to condition military aid to Ukraine to investigate political rivals overturned long-standing U.S. policy and bashed the president's recent moves on North Korea and immigration.