Tillerson shuns all but conservative website on Asia tour

FILE- In this March 10, 2017, file photo, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson smiles during a meeting with Iraqi Minister of Oil Jabar Ali al-Luaibi at the State Department in Washington. The conservative-leaning website, the Independent Journal Review, said late Tuesday, March 14, that IJR reporter Erin McPike is the lone journalist traveling with Tillerson on his tour to Japan, South Korea and China. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON — A reporter from a conservative-leaning website is the only media representative accompanying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his trip to Asia this week.

The website, the Independent Journal Review, said late Tuesday that IJR reporter Erin McPike is the lone journalist traveling with Tillerson on his tour to Japan, South Korea and China. The State Department confirmed the account. The trip is taking place amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

The department had said that Tillerson would not take journalists with him as he was traveling on a small plane. However, it said accommodations would be made for those who travelled commercially. A number of Washington-based correspondents will meet up with Tillerson at his stops in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing. On his first two trips as secretary of state, Tillerson traveled with a small number of "pool" reporters who provided information about his events to a broader group. McPike, the IJR reporter, is traveling unilaterally and is not a pool reporter.

Multiple reporters from numerous global, national and regional news organizations have traveled with the secretary of state for nearly 50 years under administrations of both political parties, which believed their presence contributed to informing American taxpayers and foreign governments and publics about U.S. foreign policy.

The State Department Correspondents Association said in a statement that it was "disappointed" in the decision for Tillerson to bring only one reporter on the trip, but would continue to work with the State Department to address concerns.

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