Multiple reporters from numerous global, national and regional news organizations have traveled with the secretary of state for almost 50 years under Republican and Democratic administrations, which believed their presence helped inform American taxpayers and foreign governments and publics about USA policy.
Tillerson will visit China, Japan and South Korea this week amid rising concern over North Korea's recent missile testing in the region.
State Department officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on why IJR and McPike were chosen to travel with Tillerson.
The decision to travel on a smaller aircraft was Tillerson's, Toner said, and was in part an effort to save money.
An immediate withdrawal from the Council, however, is not imminent, multiple State Department aides told FP.
The glowing beat-sweetener, published two weeks ago, is a rebuttal to the widespread narrative that Tillerson has been largely sidelined by the White House, lacks influence with the president, and is unwilling to engagewith the press or the public.
State Department officials - including Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley - say their goal is to fix the organization and its "bias" against the Jewish state.
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McPike grants the aide anonymity to give quotes like, "If Trump closes the deal, Rex is the person who makes the deal".
"Several of our members have traveled commercially to meet Secretary Tillerson on the ground in Asia", the statement said. While she has years of experience covering Washington, she is not a State Department beat reporter. "What just happened is shocking - and counterproductive for USA diplomacy".
This excuse rang hollow to members of the press corps. It's the second time this month the site has been rewarded with exclusive access while the rest of the press was shut out; when Trump ditched the press for a dinner at the Trump Hotel, the website's Benny Johnson had been tipped off and filed a fawning report after sitting at a nearby table.
"We may not share a common view on this, given the make-up of the membership", he said.
But Tillerson ended up taking a Boeing 737, which could have accommodated some of the usual contingent of State Department journalists, each of whom pays his or her own way for trips.
The secretary has not been as press-friendly as his predecessor, John Kerry. "To some degree, it's a cost-saving measure". The Council has a small window of time to changes it ways.
Before founding IJR, Skatell worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and for the Republican Governors Association, according to his LinkedIn profile.