The story of Mike Pompeo's interview with Mary Louise Kelly from NPR and his subsequent response calling her a liar came out while I was reading Catch and Kill and watching Bombshell.
Those stories showed the multiple ways the powerful hide their lies and crimes. The good news is that both those stories give us a model to use to stop them.
I've watched several Pompeo interviews and they show a man who isn't skilled in talking to the media so he resorts to insults and intimidation. I've seen this attitude many times before, almost always from men. They think "media training" means figuring out how to train the media to do what they want.
They know it's not a crime to lie to the public or the press. As former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said, ‘I have no obligation to be honest to the media.’
Pompeo and his staff start off using bribes of access to control who is doing the interview and what the topics will be. When that doesn't work they use name calling and threats. Remember his interview in October with the Tennessee reporter? Pompeo made his dissatisfaction clear. I can guarantee that following that interview all the producers and reporters trying to set up interviews knew exactly what happened. Pompeo's staff were tasked with preventing that from happening again in the future.
Because of what happened with the Nancy Amons interview in Tennessee in October 2019 I knew that NPR would have email evidence that Pompeo was lying about the conditions of the interview. Sure enough they did. (Emails support NPR host after Pompeo calls her a liar in setting up contentious interview Washington Post )
But emails between Kelly and Pompeo’s press aide, Katie Martin, a day before the interview show that there was no such agreement and that Kelly made clear her intention to question Pompeo about other topics.
“Just wanted to touch base that we still intend to keep the interview to Iran tomorrow,” Martin wrote. “Know you just got back from Tehran so we would like to stick to Iran as the topic as opposed to jumping around. Is that something we can agree to?”
Kelly responded, “I am indeed just back from Tehran and plan to start there. Also Ukraine. And who knows what the news gods will serve up overnight. I never agree to take anything off the table.”
Martin replied, “Totally understand you want to ask other topics but just hoping . . . we can stick to that topic for a healthy portion of the interview . . . Wouldn’t want to spend the interview on questions he’s answered many times for the last several months.”
Kelly: “My plan is to start with Iran and, yes, to spend a healthy portion of the interview there. Iran has been my focus of late as well. And yes — I also would not want to waste time on questions he’s answered many times in recent months.”
Martin, whose official State Department title is deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Global Public Affairs, did not respond to a request for comment. Kelly declined to comment.
After NPR backed up Kelly Trump tweeted and threatened NPRs funding.
A very good question! https://t.co/8z6uQLKz8M
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
So what happens next? If we look to Catch and Kill and Bombshell we can see that journalists alone can't stop the rich and powerful. In order to stop these men it takes a team. It takes insiders to get the evidence of lies and crimes. It takes a legal strategy that can work in our rigged system. It takes financial leverage that powerful people can't ignore. It takes a plan to get the evidence of crimes into a lawsuit. There needs to be a way to get witnesses to testify under oath and a way for the testimonies to be public so they can't be hidden with non-disclosure agreements, "national security" claims and/or "executive privilege" excuses.
Sick Fun Fact: In Catch and Kill, Bombshell and Pompeo's interviews I noted one person involved with covering up for Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes and Donald Trump. Rudy Giuliani.
The clip used is Nancy Amons of WSMV in Tennessee on October 11, 2019 asking Pompeo about a meeting in Poland with Giuliani. Note how he smirks when he is asked but you can see he is upset before he repeats his cover lines twice. During the interview he questioned Amons' knowledge and suggested she is working for the DNC. When she asks hard questions she is "doing a real disservice to the employees and the team at the United States Department of State."
As you can see, Pompeo has used these intimidation methods before. Instead of learning from his Nancy Amons interview he attacks Kelly and makes the accusations louder and more formal. A statement from the State Department is EXACTLY what he wants other reporters to "hear about" and to expect from his office if they dare question him off his approved topic list.
NPR and Kelly aren't going to file a defamation lawsuit against Pompeo. They will do what they did which was to release what they had and wait for Pompeo to weasel word out of it. However, this most recent example of how easy and often the Trump administration lies to the media should be used as a reason to demand Pompeo be subpoenaed to testify under oath about what happened in the Ukrainian case.