The Trump administration blocked reporters from being included in a recent briefing call on international religious freedom held by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unless they belonged to a “faith-based media,” CNN reported.
One member of the State Department’s press corps was invited to join the Monday call only to later be uninvited and told the briefing was for “faith-based media only, reports CNN.
A spokesperson for the State Department said in a statement that some media engagements, such as “department press briefings, teleconferences on a myriad of policy issues, briefings and sprays by the Secretary of State and other officials,” are “open to any interested domestic or international press.”
“Other engagements are more targeted or designed for topic, region, or audience-specific media. This has always been the case,” the spokesperson said.
A transcript of the call will not be provided to reporters, CNN added.
John Kirby, a former State Department spokesman and CNN analyst, told the network that “it is typical practice that any on the record interview in which a Cabinet official participates is transcribed and published at the earliest appropriate opportunity.”
“These officials are public servants. What they say — in its entirety — is inherently of public interest. It’s inappropriate and irresponsible not to observe that obligation,” he continued.
“It’s perfectly fine to ensure faith-based media have a seat at such a table. But it’s PR malpractice to cut off access to the broader press corps. I wish I could say I expected more from this crowd,” Kirby added.