Reuters SEOUL (Reuters) — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to Asia accompanied by only one journalist on his aircraft, a reporter from a website founded by former Republican political operatives, in a departure from decades of practice.
Tillerson, who became the top U.S. diplomat under Republican President Donald Trump in February, traveled to Mexico and Germany last month with a small contingent of journalists, including a “pool” reporter who informed colleagues of Tillerson’s statements or actions.
The journalist on Tillerson’s plane that arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday, Erin McPike of the Independent Journal Review (IJR), was not acting as a pool reporter.
State Department Acting Spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement that there was only one seat available on Tillerson’s plane for media. The department had previously told reporters covering Tillerson’s trip to South Korea, Japan, and China that he would not be taking reporters on his plane and that they would have to fly commercially, breaking with decades of precedent stretching back to Henry Kissinger.
“It was decided to take a journalist from an outlet that doesn’t normally travel with the Secretary of State, as part of an effort to include a broader representation of U.S. media,” Toner said. “We will also make every effort to include a contingent of media on the Secretary’s plane going forward.”