Appearing on “All Things Considered” on Friday, NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly described an interview she’d conducted with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, insisting to her listeners that Pompeo berated her with expletives after the interview portion of their interaction was over.
“He shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself had lasted,” Kelly said. “He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine. He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others.”
Kelly said that Pompeo then took out a blank map of the world and asked her to identify Ukraine.
“I pointed to Ukraine,” she said. “He put the map away. He said, ‘People will hear about this.’”
In a statement on Saturday, Pompeo responded forcefully to Kelly’s interpretation of their meeting, calling her a “shameful” liar who had conducted the interview under false pretenses.
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice,” Pompeo said. “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.”
Pompeo said that Kelly’s behavior and her subsequent radio remarks were just another example of how the “unhinged” media will do anything and everything to attack the Trump 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,” he said.
Pompeo’s statement drew condemnation from the media and Democrats, who once again resorted to hyperbolic claims of fascism to get their point to stick.
Jason Rezaian of the Washington Post (who, having spent some time in an Iranian prison, ought to know a thing or two about true authoritarianism) said that Pompeo’s statement amounted to a “shameful assault on #PressFreedom.”
This was rebuked by former White House assistant Andrew Surabian, who said: “In what universe is complaining about a reporter breaking an off the record agreement an ‘assault on press freedom’?. If @NPRKelly did indeed break an off the record agreement, she should be fired & her colleagues should be condemning her, not holding her up as a resistance hero.”
You mean, take sides WITH someone in the Trump administration? Ha!
By the way, our favorite part of all of this: According to Pompeo, Kelly didn’t do quite as well with that blank map as she claimed on the air.
“It is worth noting,” he concluded, “that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.”