State Dept. Doubles Down on Secrecy as Pompeo’s ‘Faith-Based Media Only’ Conference Call Draws Criticism

Mike Pompeo
 
 
 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a secret conference call on Monday and invited only "faith-based" media outlets. All mainstream media outlets were banned. Even reporters whose "beat" is religion were barred from the call. One reporter from a non-faith-based media outlet was accidentally invited, then disinvited when the error was discovered.

Outrage and concern have been growing since CNN Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who covers the State Department, first reported the unusual secretive conference call was being held.

Criticism has grown after the State Dept. refused to release a list of media outlets invited and on the call, and refused to release a transcript, all of which are standard operating procedure.

There is also concern that the State Dept. has refused to reveal if there were a variety of religions represented on the call. Secretary Pompeo is known as a far right conservative Christian. When he was the Director of CIA he would speak publicly about the Rapture and reportedly has "depicted the fight against terrorism as a war between radical Muslims, on one side, and the Christian faith on the other."

The State Dept. also appears to be offering false information to cover up the event.

"The Department regularly engages in a broad array of media activities,"  a State Dept. representative told HuffPost. "Some of those engagements .... 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.”

That, in fact, has not always been the case, as Andrea Mitchell, a veteran journalist and NBC News' Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, noted on Twitter Monday night:

CNN Global Affairs analyst John Kirby, a former State Department spokesperson under President Barack Obama, told CNN, "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," proving false the State Dept.'s claims.

"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," Kirby, who served as a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, also said.

And while the State dept. would not even verify to HuffPost that the call took place, CNN reports Sec. Pompeo's call was held "to discuss 'international religious freedom' ahead of his trip to the Middle East."

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