"We expect that the diplomatic press corps will be afforded access to Secretary Tillerson equal to that given to the reporter on the plane".
The situation follows weeks of friction between Mr. Tillerson's office and journalists from other news outlets that more regularly cover the department, including the major news wires that report hourly on the secretary's official statements, meetings and movements. North Korea's missile program is getting quicker and smarter, threatening the United States and its two key East Asian allies - Japan and South Korea.
We don't take this opportunity lightly and recognize the controversy surrounding press access for the trip.
State Department officials - including Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley - say their goal is to fix the organization and its "bias" against the Jewish state.
According to IJR founder Alex Skatell, who previously worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican Governors Association, McPike got the spot because of her "tenacious, detailed brand of reporting".
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The State Department reportedly declined to confirm whether there would be any reporters on Tillerson's plane hours before the former Exxon Mobile Corp.
The State Department Correspondents Association responded by saying that that it was "disappointed" Tillerson chose to travel to Asia "without a full contingent of the diplomatic press corps or even a pool reporter". Reuters also notes that McPike does not appear to be filing the pool reports that reporters traveling with the secretary typically file to inform colleagues about his activities. That personal preference apparently outweighed any responsibility the secretary feels about providing the press with access.
Questioned about the decision this week, acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the agency would make "every effort in the future" to have media on Tillerson's plane.
The department originally had said Tillerson would not take journalists with him as he was traveling on a small plane.
Instead, Tillerson invited a single reporter from a startup news site with a conservative bent. News organizations pay for the cost of the reporters' travel.