White House Correspondents' Association blasts State for 'punitive action' against NPR

White House Correspondents' Association blasts State for 'punitive action' against NPR
© Getty Images

The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) on Tuesday criticized the State Department for removing an NPR reporter from Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo condemns China's expulsion of WSJ journalists Wall Street Journal 'deeply disappointed' by China's expulsion of journalists China expels three Wall Street Journal reporters MORE's upcoming trip to Europe and Central Asia and called for it to reverse the decision.

"The State Department's apparent attempt to take punitive action against a news outlet for its reporting is outrageous and contrary to American values," WCHA president Jonathan Karl said in a statement.
"The WHCA calls on the State Department to reverse this ill-conceived decision. We stand with our colleagues at NPR and the State Department Correspondents' Association," he added.
The removal of NPR reporter Michele Kelemen from the trip was the latest fallout between the State Department and the news organization after NPR's Mary Louise Kelly said last week on “All Things Considered” that Pompeo, during an interview about Ukraine, cursed at her and asked her if she could locate the country on a map.
Pompeo responded over the weekend, calling Kelly a liar in an official statement from the State Department. Pompeo accused Kelly of lying about the setup for the interview and keeping the post-interview conversation off the record.
Kelly, a veteran NPR reporter, has said that she told Pompeo's office prior to the interview that she would be asking about Ukraine. She also said she had not agreed to keep the post-interview conversation off the record.
Pompeo in his statement did not take issue with other parts of Kelly's account, including that he brought out an unmarked map and asked her to find Ukraine on it. 
Kelly said she pointed to Ukraine on the map. Pompeo, in the Saturday statement, offered a cryptic comment about Bangladesh not being Ukraine. 
On Saturday, Democratic Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMenendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (N.J.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Democratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students MORE (Va.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyKennedy, Markey spar over experience in first Senate primary debate The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg to face off with rivals at Nevada debate Massachusetts Democrats question deployment of Border Patrol teams to sanctuary cities MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Senate Democrats introduce legislation to change impeachment trial rules Hillicon Valley: Facebook suspends misinformation networks targeting US | Lawmakers grill census officials on cybersecurity | Trump signs order to protect GPS | Dem senators propose federal facial recognition moratorium MORE (Ore.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe CNN signs Andrew Yang as contributor Bloomberg qualifies for South Carolina primary debate MORE (N.J.) penned a letter to Pompeo, criticizing his behavior with Kelly during their interview.
“As the United States’ chief diplomat, the person most responsible for promoting and championing American values all over the world, Secretary Pompeo should know that freedom of the press is a fundamental human right, a foundational pillar of democracy, and an indispensable check on authoritarian overreach,” Menendez said Tuesday.