The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington watchdog organization has filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding documents on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent phone conference press briefing that was restricted to “faith-based media” only.
The conference call last Monday with journalists was arranged to discuss religious freedom ahead of Pompeo’s trip to the Mideast. One journalist was pointedly disinvited from the briefing apparently because the reporter was not from what the State Department considered a “faith-based” media outlet.
State dept defending @SecPompeo limiting briefing today to “faith based media” saying they regularly do targeted media and “other engagements are more targeted or designed for topic, region, or audience-specific media.” Can’t recall religion being a test before for journalists— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) March 19, 2019
The govt choosing media by a religious test is unacceptable— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) March 19, 2019
The State Department refused media requests for details on the press briefing by a federal official conducting official business. Information sought included who participated and a transcription of what was discussed.
The State Department has “also refused to answer questions about whether a range of faiths was represented” by those invited to participate, CREW noted in its FOIA letter.
“There is immense public interest in whether the State Department is cutting off access to the media based on religion,” especially when the briefing supposedly concerned “religious freedom in the Middle East, in advance of a diplomatic trip,” CREW said in a statement.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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