Tillerson: ‘I’m not a big media press access person’

Tillerson: ‘I’m not a big media press access person’
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday stood by his decision not to allow a pool reporter to travel with him on his Asia trip, calling himself “not a big media press access person.”

Erin McPike of the right-leaning Independent Journal Review — the only reporter selected by State to travel with Tillerson — pressed the diplomat about his decision in an interview.

McPike noted China restricts press access and asked whether he’s concerned about the the message he’s sending.

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Tillerson claimed the decision not to allow more reporters had to do with a desire to save money, saying the plane “flies faster, allows me to be more efficient” with fewer people on it.

He added that there’s plenty of media in the cities where he’s heading, lowering the need for a traveling press. And he disregarded the tradition of the secretary of State spending time with reporters on flights, saying “that’s not the way I tend to work.”

Tillerson wouldn't commit to bringing a pool reporter on future trips, saying it would be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on his goals.

“First and foremost is what is my mission and why am I going? How can I best accomplish that mission? What’s the most effective way for me to do that?” the secretary said.

“I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it. … 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.”

He added: “When I have something important and useful to say, I know where everybody is and I know how to go out there and say it.”

The interview was McPike’s first file of the trip. The State Department has faced heavy criticism from reporters, including the State Department Correspondents’ Association, for not allowing a pool reporter to travel with Tillerson but instead handpicking one journalist from a conservative outlet.