“It should alarm all Americans that the two highest ranking officials of the United States government have denigrated the institution of a free press by bullying an NPR journalist and arbitrarily restricting access to another,” said Dokhi Fassihian, Executive Director of RSF USA. “Retaliation against journalists flies in the face of the values and freedoms this country stands for, a country these officials have taken an oath to faithfully represent. We are calling on the State Department to immediately allow Michele Keleman to rejoin the Secretary’s press pool and for all administration officials to allow members of the press to do their work unhindered.”
Two days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly of being a liar for her coverage of a recent interview with him during which he excoriated her for attempting to ask him questions about Ukraine, the State Department arbitrarily dropped NPR reporter Michele Keleman on January 27 from the press pool covering Secretary Pompeo's upcoming trip to Europe and Central Asia. The State Department Correspondents’ Association is calling this a retaliatory measure against NPR for the Kelly interview. On January 28, President Trump praised Secretary Pompeo, who was in the audience during a press conference, for lashing out at Kelly. “I think you did a good job on her, actually,” Trump remarked.
The United States is ranked 48th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index .