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Summary (IA Generated)
Voice of America’s senior White House correspondent was demoted on Monday evening just hours after asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo questions he refused to answer, demonstrating that even US government-funded journalists face retaliation for confronting top Trump administration officials.
Afterward, VOA director Robert Reilly engaged Pompeo in a question-and-answer session filled with softballs, only to let the Cabinet member leave without facing any hard-hitting queries from the outlet’s reporters in the audience.
Unhappy with what transpired, VOA’s White House senior correspondent Patsy Widakuswara — who was in the audience — pursued Pompeo as he left VOA’s building in downtown Washington, DC.
She asked what he planned to do to improve America’s reputation around the world and if he regretted saying in November that the presidential transition would proceed smoothly into a second term for President Donald Trump.
The nation‘s top diplomat @SecPompeo ignoring my questions about what he is doing to restore US reputation and whether he regrets saying there will be a second Trump administration.
According to sources familiar with what transpired, she asked Reilly why he didn’t ask Pompeo any of the questions that VOA journalists had submitted beforehand.
” He then said Widakuswara was “not authorized” to ask questions and that she was “out of order.
“Reilly was visibly perturbed” by Widakuswara’s confrontation, a VOA source told me, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation.
Late Monday evening, Widakuswara received a message from one of her bosses saying the reporter would no longer be the outlet’s senior White House correspondent, and would instead be reassigned as a general assignment journalist.
Some sources believe that Robbins, who joined VOA from the State Department in December, is fiercely loyal to Pompeo.
“Being taken off the White House beat, this immediately smacks of political retaliation,” that person said.
“Patsy was there representing all of us, every VOA journalist trying to question the secretary,” the same source said.
Widakuswara’s reassignment, first reported by Vox on Monday night, comes at an inopportune time for Pompeo.
After the Widakuswara incident, the location of the event is awkward for the secretary, since it’s a professional and social club for journalists.
It also comes less than a week after an insurrection at the Capitol, incited by Trump, has left many in the US and around the world questioning the state of American democracy.
And instead of leaders like Pompeo paying the price, it’s the journalists asking him to answer for his mistakes who get reprimanded.
Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that empowers you through understanding.