Media Freaks Over Who's Traveling With Tillerson To Asia

Bruno Cirelli
Marzo 18, 2017

The State Department earlier said Tillerson, who arrives in Japan late Wednesday, wouldn't take reporters with him because he was traveling on a small plane, drawing protests from the department's correspondents association.

He said the department's budget a year ago was "historically high", in part because of conflicts around the globe where USA spending, in addition to military money, includes humanitarian aid and so-called "nation-building" assistance, as well as disaster relief in other parts of the world.

Toner replied: "I think it sends a message that we're willing to look at new paradigms with our approach to the media, again, while at the same time ensuring that traditional media has full access and nontraditional media".

The right-leaning Independent Journal Review announced Tuesday that Erin McPike, its White House correspondent, would join Tillerson on his first major trip to Asia representing the United States.

Those who flew commercially couldn't get visas for China without the State Department's assistance and won't be able to keep up with Tillerson's itinerary or talk to aides between meetings.

Tillerson said the department was "coming off a historically high allocation of resources" adding that much could still be accomplished with "fewer dollars".

"We've been very clear, frankly, that this is a smaller footprint all around, and this is the secretary's decision, to travel with a smaller footprint", he said. The journalists who reported Tillerson's landing in Tokyo on Wednesday evening travelled there on commercial flights.

Efficiency is not usually what one would associate with government agencies, let alone touting budget cuts to make it happen, but the secretary of state told reporters in Tokyo Thursday that current spending at the State Department would not be "sustainable" moving forward.

Tillerson, a former chief executive with the Exxon Mobil oil company, faces a tough first trip to Asia seeking to reassure nervous allies facing North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threat and press China to do more on perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting Trump.

The secretary has not been as press-friendly as his predecessor, John Kerry.

For decades, secretaries of state have almost always invited media to travel with them.

Republican secretaries of state Alexander Haig, George Shultz, James Baker, and Condoleezza Rice routinely took 10 or more journalists on their overseas trips, even to war zones.

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