Here's What NPR Host Has to Say About Pompeo

Mary Louise Kelly defends press freedom after spat with secretary of state
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2020 10:13 AM CST
NPR Host: 'Stakes Are Too High' to Not Ask Tough Questions
Mary Louise Kelly accepts the award for best reporter/correspondent/host - non-commercial for "All Things Considered" on "NPR News" at the 43rd annual Gracie Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on May 22, 2018.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

NPR journalist Mary Louise Kelly says she was just doing her job when she asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Ukraine, only to be accused of violating "the basic rules of journalism and decency." "Journalists don't sit down with senior government officials in the service of scoring political points," the co-host of All Things Considered writes in a New York Times op-ed, noting it is "both a privilege and a responsibility" to hold powerful people—like those "charged with steering the foreign policy of entire nations"—to account. Indeed, "the stakes are too high for their impulses and decisions not to be examined in as thoughtful and rigorous an interview as is possible," which is why "freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution." It's also why Kelly put tough questions to Iran's foreign minister, including about American detainees in Iran, on Jan. 7.

That interview, and the one with Pompeo weeks later that Pompeo ultimately described as "another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration," were "overshadowed by Mr. Pompeo's subsequently swearing at me, calling me a liar and challenging me to find Ukraine on an unmarked map," Kelly writes. "It occurs to me that swapping insults through interviews with journalists such as me might, terrifyingly, be as close as the top diplomats of the United States and Iran came to communicating this month." In her own assessment, NPR Public Editor Elizabeth Jensen notes "this was exemplary, ethical journalism" that was "caught in the downward spiral of a polarized political environment—and the ultimate damage is to the public's right to know what its government is doing." Read that piece here. Kelly's full piece is here. (Read more opinion stories.)

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