Politics

Pompeo doesn't deny he cursed out NPR reporter, condemns 'unhinged' media

Key Points
  • Pompeo accused reporter Mary Louise Kelly of lying, but did not deny her account of him cursing and shouting at her after a recorded interview on NPR.
  • "NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice," Pompeo asserted, without evidence. "First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record."
  • Kelly said that an aide never asked her that the meeting with Pompeo be held off the record — nor would she agree to that.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the U.S. State Department
Win McNamee | Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday continued his attacks on an NPR reporter who reported that he cursed and shouted at her after she questioned him about the Trump administration's firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Pompeo accused reporter Mary Louise Kelly of lying, but did not deny her account of what happened.

"NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice," Pompeo asserted, without evidence. "First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record."

"It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration. It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity," he added.

Pompeo cut off their recorded interview when Kelly pressed him repeatedly on why he has not defended former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. After the interview, Kelly said that she was taken to Pompeo's private living room, where he shouted and cursed at her and challenged her to find Ukraine on a map.

"He asked, 'Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?' He used the F-word in that sentence and many others," Kelly told "All Things Considered" co-host Ari Shapiro on Friday.

"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," she said. "He said, 'People will hear about this.'"

Kelly said that an aide never asked that the meeting with Pompeo be held off the record — nor would she agree to that. She also said she told the State Department afterwards that she was going to report what happened, but did not hear back.

Pompeo ended his statement by saying, "It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine," implying that Kelly, who previously covered national security for NPR and has a masters in European Studies from Cambridge University, identified Bangladesh on the map instead of Ukraine.

Members of the media quickly came to Kelly's defense following Pompeo's accusations.

"Pompeo's official response [to Kelly] doesn't deny her account of his bullying & cursing," wrote New York Times diplomatic correspondent Edward Wong. "This is an attack on news organizations from the top US diplomat, someone who is supposed to defend press freedoms. It's obvious he's playing to an audience of one — Trump."

"Pompeo also undermines his credibility on the facts of the episode in the statement," Wong wrote. "There is little chance [Kelly], a Cambridge-educated expert on Europe, would have pointed to Bangladesh if he asked her to identify Ukraine on an unlabeled map."

Nancy Barnes, NPR's senior vice president of news, said on Saturday that Kelly "has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report."

The State Department did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.