The State Department allowed only "faith-based media” on a briefing call on international religious freedom held by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Christie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group America needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries MORE on Monday, and blocked reporters from other news outlets from joining, CNN reported.
According to CNN, one member of the State Department’s press corps was invited to join the call only to later be uninvited after attempting to RSVP. The journalist was reportedly told that the briefing was for "faith-based media only."
The afternoon call was reportedly meant to cover international religious freedom ahead of Pompeo’s upcoming trip to the Middle East.
A spokesperson for the State Department said in a statement that some media engagements — such as "department press briefings, teleconferences on a myriad of policy issues, briefings and sprays by the Secretary of State and other officials” — 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," the spokesperson said.
A transcript of the call will not be provided to reporters, CNN added.
John Kirby, a former State Department spokesman and CNN analyst, told the network that "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."
"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," he continued.
"It's perfectly fine to ensure faith-based media have a seat at such a table. But it's PR malpractice to cut off access to the broader press corps. I wish I could say I expected more from this crowd," Kirby added.