A reporter from the conservative-leaning Independent Journal Review got the lone press seat on top USA diplomat Rex Tillerson's plane for his three-stop Asia trip, with the State Department shutting out other media from traveling with him.
Tillerson said the lower budget reflects the administration's expectations that the United States will be engaged in fewer foreign wars, and that other countries will contribute more to development and disaster aid.
The invitation is a testament to McPike's tenacious, detailed brand of reporting.
Speaking in Tokyo at the start of a trip to Asia focused on the threat from North Korea, Tillerson defended the cuts as a necessary correction to a "historically high" budget that had grown to address conflicts overseas in which the United States was engaged, as well as disaster aid. Major foreign policy initiatives, such as they exist in this administration, seem to have been taken away from the department.
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"The level of spending that the State Department has been undertaking, in particular this past year, is simply not sustainable", Trump's Secretary of State stated.
IJR's White House Correspondent Erin McPike will be accompanying Secretary of State Tillerson during his upcoming trip to Japan, China, and South Korea. "We could not accommodate press", Toner told reporters. It also said the decision to travel without reporters was meant to cut costs.
Tillerson admitted it would be challenging but said he accepted that challenge "willingly".
"We don't take this opportunity lightly and recognise the controversy surrounding press access for the trip", IJR founder and chief executive Alex Skatell said in a statement. News outlets such as CNN, New York Times, and Reuters complained regarding the matter. In rare cases, particularly late in a secretary's tenure, some news outlets have declined, such as former Secretary John Kerry's December 2016 trip to Saudi Arabia. Skatell, who previously worked for the Republican Governors Association, founded IJR with GOP strategist Phil Musser in 2012.