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Locked-Out Media Watch While Trump Administration Retreats Into Secrecy

By       Message Eric Boehlert       (Page 1 of 5 pages)     Permalink

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From Media Matters


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
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"We want to ensure at all times, if confirmed, that the secretary of state and the State Department is fully transparent with the public." -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his January 11, 2017, confirmation hearing.

On Tuesday, bureau chiefs for major news organizations held a conference call to discuss the fact that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not going to allow the press to travel with him on his plane during an upcoming trip to Asia. According to Poynter.org, which reported on the call, not allowing reporters on Tillerson's government plane would be would be "very unusual, if not unprecedented, certainly in recent annals, with substantial access given by recent Secretaries of State, including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice."

As Poynter explained, "[T]he logistics of keeping up with [Tillerson] by assembling stringers or hopscotching about on commercial flights makes coverage exceedingly difficult, if not impossible." According to CNN, a senior official "told reporters Tuesday Tillerson prefers to travel on a smaller plane and 'carries a much smaller footprint.'"

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Tillerson's plan to exclude the press from traveling with him overseas represents a stunning State Department policy reversal, while further cementing his image as a secretive cabinet figure who has had virtually no contact with journalists since being sworn in. "The secretary of state has given only a handful of prepared statements to the press and has not taken any questions," CNN noted.

That veil of secrecy has quickly emerged as the hallmark for this shadowy administration.

It's important to note that while President Trump's ongoing war on the press has received most of the attention this year as he threatens journalists and restricts their access, there are plenty of indications that the rampant secrecy and disdain for transparency is widespread. "The retreat from the press has taken place administration-wide," Politico noted.

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There seems to be a collective closing of the gates now underway in terms of the federal government separating itself from journalists.

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