Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will reportedly travel to Asia next week without any press, and CNN anchor Jake Tapper is not happy about it.
Tillerson will arrive in Japan on March 15, travel to South Korea on March 17 and visit China on March 18-19, according to Reuters. While he's there, the secretary is slated to discuss North Korea's recent missile tests and the United States' economic and national security interests in the region.
North Korea, which has frequently promised to obliterate the U.S. and South Korea, launched more than 20 long-range missile tests in 2016 and has conducted at least five nuclear tests over the past decade, defying United Nations sanctions against them. In January, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said his country was in the "final stage" of preparation to test an intercontinental ballistic missile.
So when Tapper learned that Tillerson wasn't taking traveling press on the Asian trip next week, the CNN host took to Twitter to lambaste the decision as "insulting to any American who is looking for anything but a state-run version of events."
And Tapper isn't alone. In a letter to State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond and Tillerson's chief of staff, Margaret Peterlin, several D.C. bureau chiefs said they are "deeply concerned" the secretary is ditching the media on his upcoming trip, Poynter reported.
"We were deeply concerned to hear that Secretary Tillerson plans to travel to Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo to hold key meetings about some of the most important foreign policy issues for the United States without any traveling press," the letter said.
The letter was signed by the Washington bureau chiefs at the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the wire services, NPR, the BBC, Voice of America, the Los Angeles Times, the Agence France-Presse and Foreign Policy.
The letter continued: "Not only does this situation leave the public narrative of the meetings up to the Chinese foreign ministry, as well as Korea’s and Japan’s, but it gives the American people no window whatsoever into the views and actions of the nation’s leaders."
According to an earlier report from Poynter, one of the reasons Tillerson won't be taking the traditional "pool" of traveling reporters is because the standard government plane the chief diplomat would normally use is being overhauled, so space is limited.
However, as one bureau chief pointed out, there are many other aircraft the State Department could use. "Congressional delegations take Air Force 737 planes all over the world all the time. So that one doesn’t quite ring true," the reporter said.
In the letter to the department, the bureau chiefs requested a meeting with both Hammond and Peterlin to "work out an arrangement that suits all of us."