March 20, 2019

US – State Department bars press corps from Pompeo briefing

Brendan Smialowski/AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned that the US State Department only allowed “faith-based” media to attend a press briefing with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, excluding mainstream press and from the meeting in an unusual move. State Department activities are of immense public interest, and press corps access to those activities must not be restricted.

The State Department allowed only faith-based media to report on a March 18 press call with Pompeo, excluding the mainstream press and wire services. Ahead of Secretary Pompeo’s trip to the Middle East, the briefing call was planned to discuss international religious freedom. Only one member of the State Department’s press corps was invited to join the call, only to be uninvited after attempting to RSVP. The State Department did not release the list of press attendees or publish a transcript of the briefing as it typically would.


“This denial of access is one of a number of moves by government officials that restrict the public’s right to know the actions of its government,” said Sabine Dolan, Interim Executive Director for RSF’s North America bureau. “Ensuring that faith-based media are present for such conversations should not come at the expense of traditional media. RSF calls on the State Department, and all government agencies, to ensure that a diverse range of media can cover their activities.”


The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.