(New York, NY) – In an interview with NPR News, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at reporter Mary Louise Kelly for her line of questioning on Ukraine. In a direct attack, Pompeo falsely accused Kelly of lying to him, calling her conduct “shameful” and referring to the news media as “unhinged.”

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel responded with the following:

“When the U.S. secretary of state debases and denigrates credible journalists, the display of contempt radiates outward, undermining the role of the press in our democracy and offering autocrats around the world an incomparable degree of cover to discredit and attack their own media. The U.S. has a long, bipartisan tradition of standing up for journalists and for press freedom globally. If a top cabinet-level official in the U.S. can show unbridled contempt for a reporter who dares ask challenging questions, what’s to stop strongmen around the world from menacing journalists who bug them? At a time when journalists around the world are killed and imprisoned for what they do, Secretary Pompeo’s spiteful insults betray the dignity of his office and make journalists everywhere less safe.”

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