During his trip to the Korean Demilitarized Zone Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson excluded the pool reporter representing U.S. networks from a meeting, allowing a team from Fox News to be admitted instead.
Tillerson was visiting the United Nations Command, Military Armistice Commission meeting room in the DMZ’s Joint Security Area, the so-called “truce village” where negotiations between North Korea and South Korea have historically taken place, according to a pool report by Pamela Boykoff, an international field producer for CNN.
The pooler was barred from the meeting, with an embassy official citing “the Secretary’s decision.” During the trip, the State Department also withheld access to meetings and a lunch with troops.
Secretary Tillerson chatted with Colonel Lee and then proceeded into the UNC-MAC Commission building.
Fox unilateral network team was allowed into this meeting — pool asked for access and was blocked. Local embassy official told the pool it was “the Secretary’s decision.”
Pool watched the Secretary depart at shortly after 1 (p.m.). Of the entire visit, network pool only given access to photo opps on conference Row and no meetings or troop lunch. Pool now departing DMZ.
Poolers, journalists who gather news for the entire press corps, are generally admitted to meetings with U.S. diplomats when they travel abroad.
The decision to exclude a pool reporter from the meeting in the Joint Security Area is the latest blow to press access on Secretary Tillerson’s Asia trip. Rather than taking the press corps with him on his trip, as is customary, Tillerson has allowed only a single reporter, Erin McPike, from the center-right publication Independent Journal Review.
Recently, the State Department broke a a six-week hiatus in press briefings, an unusual drought for an agency which traditionally fields questions from reporters on a daily basis.
Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics. He’s also reported for USA TODAY College and The Sacramento Bee, and he was editor in chief of The Orion, Chico State’s student-run newspaper. An Air Force brat who grew up around Northern California, he’s still adjusting to the Florida sunshine.