"I personally don’t need it," he says
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he's not traveling with a press pool on his current visit to Asia because he's "not a big media press access person."
Tillerson has been fiercely criticized for not allowing a press pool to accompany him on the trip. Instead, the State Department handpicked a journalist from the conservative Independent Journal Review, Erin McPike, who filed her first report Saturday morning.
“I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it," Tillerson told McPike. "When we’re ready to talk about what we’re trying to do, I will be available to talk to people. But doing daily availability, I don’t have this appetite or hunger to be that.”
Tillerson also claimed that not traveling with a press pool saves money because he's able to use a lighter plane that "flies faster." He said media outlets in the countries he's visiting can report on his activities, and that he's too busy working to spend time talking to a press pool while on the plane.
During his trip, Tillerson threatened pre-emptive military action against North Korea, saying "all options are on the table."
Tillerson said he was not aware that Trump would tweet about China's relationship with North Korea in advance of his visit to Beijing. He also disputed a report that he skipped lunch and dinner with South Korean officials due to "fatigue."
"They never invited us for dinner, then at the last minute they realized that optically it wasn’t playing very well in public for them, so they put out a statement that we didn’t have dinner because I was tired," Tillerson told IJR.
A few reactions from Twitter below.
He seems to think it's about him personally when it's really about representing the United States. https://t.co/o6Ka5Tqp4d— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) March 18, 2017
Tillerson has no concept he doesn't work for Exxon shareholders; he works for taxpayers who pay his salary & need to know what he does w/ it https://t.co/QoqqB5tiEI— Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) March 18, 2017
It's not about YOU!!! https://t.co/kSaSLbQMKw— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) March 18, 2017
What "my needs are." This isn't about YOU Rex. The public has a right to know what you are doing. https://t.co/D1RxSvBB7K— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) March 18, 2017
Tillerson's 2nd explanation of press shyness. At Exxon he learned to work well with govts that loathe free press 2/2 pic.twitter.com/vSbHbO8dBB— David Rennie (@DSORennie) March 18, 2017
Maybe something to have considered -- or gotten over -- before taking a job where American taxpayers pay your salary. https://t.co/w2pSGutYDA— Megan Liberman (@meganliberman) March 18, 2017