Tapper: Tillerson traveling without press ‘insulting’


CNN anchor Jake Tapper on Thursday called it “insulting” for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson not to bring press on his first major trip to Asia as a member of the administration.


The comments come amid concerns among some reporters about access to the secretary of State.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell was escorted out of a room on Tuesday as she attempted to ask Tillerson and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin questions about China and Russia during a photo-op. A similar situation happened last week.

The former Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO is taking his first tour of Asia next week, visiting Japan, South Korea and China to meet with senior officials to discuss the growing threat from North Korea, security interests in the region and the U.S. economy.

His trek comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China over a response to North Korea’s recent missile tests. North Korea test fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan on Monday, a move seen as a provocation of Japan and South Korea.

Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Thursday afternoon that the secretary is taking “a smaller plane for this particular trip” and logistics are still being ironed out. 
“There will be some U.S. media who will be traveling to the destinations, each destination, and of course, we will do our utmost to support them at those destinations and provide whatever access we can,” Toner said.
“I think going forward, the State Department is doing everything it can to – and will do everything it can – to accommodate a contingent of traveling media on board the Secretary’s plane,” he added.

The press criticism of public access for his Asia trip comes after Foreign Policy said that Tillerson “scurried away” from reporters’ questions on Monday as he joined other administration officials to present President Trump’s revised travel ban.

The secretary of State also allowed few journalists to accompany him on recent trips to Germany and Mexico, breaking with past practice, according to Foreign Policy.

Meanwhile, the State Department on Tuesday held the first press briefing since Trump took office, resuming the briefings after a six-week break.

Tillerson’s predecessor John Kerry traveled extensively as secretary of State with a press corps. He would often add detours to trips abroad for impromptu meetings, something his traveling press corps reportedly called a “Kerry-go-round.”

The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday on Tapper’s remarks.

Updated: 5:55 p.m. 

Tags China CNN Diplomacy foreign affairs John Kerry media North Korea Politics South Korea State Department

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