Pompeo condemns China for banning reporters weeks after he did the same

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The Trump administration has repeatedly attacked the U.S. media as 'fake news.'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday condemned China for expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters from the country, saying China should respect free speech.

According to a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the reporters' credentials were revoked this week over an editorial headline the government did not like. The Journal said the reporters had been ordered to leave the country within five days.

On Wednesday, Pompeo spoke out against the decision.

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"The United States condemns China’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal foreign correspondents," he said in a statement. "Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions. The correct response is to present counter arguments, not restrict speech. The United States hopes that the Chinese people will enjoy the same access to accurate information and freedom of speech that Americans enjoy."

Pompeo's condemnation of China and defense of a free press comes just three weeks after Pompeo himself smeared an NPR reporter because she asked a question he didn't like, and then banned that reporter's outlet from a foreign trip he took.

During an interview in January, NPR's Mary Louise Kelly asked Pompeo why he had not publicly defended Marie Yovanovitch, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine, who testified against Trump in the House impeachment inquiry last fall.

Yovanovitch was pulled from her post in May last year after being targeted with a smear campaign by Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani's associates. In an interview with the New Yorker in November, Giuliani admitted he had wanted Yovanovitch removed because she "was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody," referring to Trump's repeated attempts to force Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Pompeo never publicly declared support for the ambassador, despite the baseless smears and repeated attacks from Trump, who referred to Yovanovitch as part of "the swamp."

In the NPR interview, Pompeo was confronted about that silence, to which he replied, "I've defended every single person on this team. I've done what's right for every single person on this team."

Pompeo later questioned Kelly's intelligence, berating her and demanding that she identify where Ukraine was on a map.

Days after that incident, Pompeo banned NPR from his planned trip to Europe and Central Asia.

According to an NPR spokesperson who spoke with Vox at the time, the NPR reporter who had been scheduled to serve as the pool radio reporter on the trip "was informed that she would not be traveling" and "was not given a reason."

Trump himself has frequently attacked the press for reporting accurate news he doesn't like. He deems any facts that are not favorable to him "fake news."

Trump has also called the media the "enemy of the people," suggesting they are a threat to the country.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.