Tillerson Says He’s ‘Not a Big Media Press Access Person’

tillerson Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is responding to criticism he’s getting for not traveling with the full press pool in a new interview. Tillerson’s decision has been criticized by many news outlets. In fact, the only journalist that has accompanied Tillerson is Independent Journal Review’s Erin McPike. McPike first asked Tillerson about the reports from the South Korean press that he cancelled a dinner with top officials due to “fatigue.” He responded, “They never invited us for dinner, then at the last minute they realized that optically it wasn’t playing very well… in the public for them, so they put out a statement that we didn’t have dinner because I was tired.” As for the press issue, McPike asked Tillerson, “Are you concerned about the message that you might be sending China by not taking a traveling press pool with you into China, which restricts press access? There’s been a lot of uproar over press access to you, especially on this trip. Will you ever do this again?” Tillerson reiterated what the White House said last week about this partially being a cost-saving issue and said, “What I’m told is there’s this long tradition that the Secretary spends time on the plane with the press. I don’t know that I’ll do a lot of that. I’m just not––that’s not the way I tend to work.” McPike pressed Tillerson again on the matter, and he said that news outlets will still be able to cover him in China––”the only thing that’s missing is the chance to talk more in the air.” He added the following:
“I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it. I understand it’s important to get the message of what we’re doing out, but I also think there’s only a purpose in getting the message out when there’s something to be done. And so we have a lot of work to do, and when we’re ready to talk about what we’re trying to do, I will be available to talk to people. But doing daily availability, I don’t have this appetite or hunger to be that, have a lot of things, have a lot of quotes in the paper or be more visible with the media. I view that the relationship that I want to have with the media, is the media is very important to help me communicate not just to the American people, but to others in the world that are listening. And when I have something important and useful to say, I know where everybody is and I know how to go out there and say it. But if I don’t, because we’re still formulating and we’re still deciding what we’re going to do, there is not going to be a lot to say.”

You can read the full interview here. [image via screengrab] — — Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

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