National Public Radio’s (NPR) President and CEO is standing by “All Things Considered” host Mary Louise Kelly after she was verbally attacked and smeared by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“One day after a contentious interview followed by an expletive-filled verbal lashing of NPR host Mary Louise Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is publicly accusing her of lying to him — ‘twice,’” NPR reported on Saturday. “He does not explain how and offers no evidence, but in their recorded interview the nation’s top diplomat declined to respond when Kelly asked if he owed an apology to Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted from that post last year after allies of President Trump accused her of disloyalty.”
Nancy Barnes, NPR senior vice president for news, is standing firmly behind Kelly’s reporting.
“Mary Louise Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity and we stand behind this report,” Barnes said in a statement.
NPR President and CEO John Lansing also defended Kelly.
“Mary Louise Kelly is one of the most respected, truthful, factual, professional and ethical journalists in the United States, and that’s known by the entire press corps,” Lansing said on Saturday. “And I stand behind her and I stand behind the NPR newsroom, and the statement from the secretary of state is blatantly false.”
“But this goes well beyond tension — this goes towards intimidation,” he added. “And let me just say this: we will not be intimidated. Mary Louise Kelly won’t be intimidated, and NPR won’t be intimidated.”
— NPR (@NPR) January 25, 2020
Kelly revealed during a segment on “All Things Considered” on Friday that Pompeo questioned whether Americans even care about Ukraine and if the veteran journalist — who had recently returned from reporting in Iran — could find the country on a map.
“I was taken to the Secretary’s private living room where he was waiting and where he shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself,” Kelly told her co-host Ari Shapiro, according to a transcript of the program. “He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine.”
“He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” Kelly said.
“He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away.”
“He said, ‘People will hear about this,’” Kelly recounted.
NPR's Mary Louise Kelly says the following happened after the interview in which she asked some tough questions to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. pic.twitter.com/cRTb71fZvX
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 24, 2020
Pompeo on Saturday lashed out publicly at Kelly, claiming “she lied to me” and describing her actions as “shameful.”
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record,” Pompeo said in a statement. “It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency.”
Pompeo did not challenge the details of Kelly’s claims about his statements or demeanor during their conversation, notes NBC News.
He also did not dispute Kelly’s claim that she had correctly identified Ukraine. “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,” he said in his statement — but did not allege that Kelly had done so.