Democratic Lawmakers Demand Answers
It appears that reporters from only Christian and Jewish media outlets were invited to participate in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's secretive "faith-based media only" conference call Monday night.
Breaking with regular protocol the State Dept. is refusing to release the list of journalists invited or the names of their media outlets. It is also refusing to release the transcript of the conference call or any other details. A representative from the State Dept. went so far as to refuse to even verify that the now highly controversial call even took place.
But one news outlet that was on the call has reported the names of the news outlets that asked questions. They are all Christian and Jewish media. None were from Muslim news outlets or from any other faith. It is possible, although highly unlikely, that news outlets covering the Islamic faith would have been on the call and not asked questions, given the purpose of the call was to discuss "international religious freedom" ahead of Secretary Pompeo's trip to the Middle East this week.
"While it was not clear which outlets were part of the call, questions were asked by Religion News Service, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Algemeiner, World Magazine and The Leaven, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. America Magazine also participated in the call," Religion News Service reports. Algemeiner covers Jewish news, World Magazine is a Christian evangelical outlet, and America Magazine reports on the Catholic faith.
Religion News Service notes it is not a "faith-based" media outlet, but one that "covers religion, spirituality and ethics." Apparently the State Dept. was unaware of the distinction. One other secular outlet was invited but the invitation was rescinded and they were told it was because they were not "faith-based."
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are demanding answers from the State Department. The House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Eliot Engel (D-NY), is demanding "more information."
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) March 19, 2019
Also expressing concern is the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:
"We urge the State Department to immediately release the transcript of this call, and ensure that future briefings — especially those on issues of widespread public interest — are open to the State Department press corps and other interested journalists." https://t.co/izaN2FAVAW
— Reporters Committee (@rcfp) March 19, 2019
Image by U.S. Dept. of State via Flickr
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