Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
World | By Ernestine Jimenez

Tillerson shuns all but conservative website on Asia tour

Tillerson shuns all but conservative website on Asia tour

Journalists at major outlets first began to panic when news broke last week that Tillerson did not plan to take any of the press with him on his trip to Japan, South Korea, and China.

Instead, Tillerson privately resisted a 37-percent budget cut that some White House officials sought and he convinced Trump he needed more time to identify where savings could be made, two current and one former official told Reuters.

The US State Department said Wednesday that it is testing new media coverage rules as its boss Rex Tillerson traveled to Asia with no accredited reporters in tow - a break with 50 years of tradition.

This excuse rang hollow to members of the press corps.

State Department Acting Spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement that there was only one seat available on Tillerson's plane for media.

"A key component of foreign policy is being undercut by this", she added".

"Tillerson isn't opposed to cutting the budget at all, but he figured out that he couldn't win head-to-head battles with the president and the people close to him, so he's pursuing a different strategy, arguing that he can't make wise decisions about what to cut until he's more familiar with his department and its budget", said one of the current officials, a State Department veteran.

"We don't take this opportunity lightly and recognize the controversy surrounding press access for the trip", IJR founder and chief executive Alex Skatell said in a statement.

He has drawn criticism from many State Department officials who believe he has failed to cultivate potential allies in Trump's cabinet and on Capitol Hill.

Tillerson said he would conduct a "comprehensive examination" of how the State Department's programs are run and how the department is structured.

Tillerson, who became the top US 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.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Haber Turk news channel that the top USA diplomat was likely to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during the visit.

The travel offer came from the State Department, and "after editorial consultation, McPike accepted the seat", he said.

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