A secretive State Department briefing restricted to all but faith-based reporters is raising questions among reporters about access and press freedoms.
On Monday evening, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a phone briefing for reporters from the religious press. Secular news agencies—including the main networks and newspapers—were not invited to participate in the call.
The State Department said it will not release the names of the attendees or transcripts from the meeting.
Michele Kelemen from NPR wondered why the department was being so secretive: “usually we see a transcript or at least know who was invited. Why not this time?”
In a statement provided to CNN about the call, the department argued that there was nothing inherently out of place in agency regulations about the Monday briefing.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
“Department press briefings, teleconferences on a myriad of policy issues, briefings and sprays by the Secretary of State and other officials,” the department said, “are open to any interested domestic or international press.”
“Other engagements are more targeted or designed for topic, region, or audience-specific media,” the statement added. “This has always been the case.”
According to MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell, however, that isn’t exactly true.
“Can’t recall religion being a test before for journalists,” Mitchell said in a tweet.