This weekend we learned that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cursed, shouted, and tried to humiliate NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly following an interview that didn’t go exactly as he wanted it to go. This isn’t a huge surprise. Pompeo works for a bully in an administration that rewards and elevates bullies. Of course he’s a bully. What else could he be?
Still, it should worry us all that a man with such power is so easily triggered. When Kelly asked Pompeo questions he didn’t want to answer, he waited until the mics were off and then screamed and cursed at her and challenged her to find Ukraine on an unlabeled map. She did so. But it is not her job to pass on-the-fly geography quizzes. Her job is to ask questions. His job, once he’s agreed to speak to a reporter, is to answer them. If he doesn’t like the questions he may say so, but he should not melt down and rant like a lunatic.
Pompeo does not deny Kelly’s reports of his tirade. I suspect this is only because he fears a recording may exist. Instead, he claims the conversation was supposed to be off the record and says Kelly broke protocol by reporting on his crude outburst. In other words, he didn’t think he’d get caught. Kelly denies that she agreed to take the conversation off the record and she has email evidence to support her side of the story, but it hardly matters. Pompeo’s claim is utter nonsense.
When a conversation is deemed off the record, it means the journalist won’t report any salient facts that are discussed. It does not mean that the reporter must take a vow of silence if the other person in the room becomes abusive or threatening or worse. Pompeo seems to believe it gives him the right to do anything and say anything without fear of reprisal. He is wrong.
It is rich that Pompeo turned his wrath on one woman because she asked him a question about his failure to defend another woman. You get the impression Pompeo doesn’t like women very much. This is also no surprise. You can tell what sort of person someone is by the company he keeps, and Pompeo is often seen keeping company with proud misogynists. Indeed, he works for one.
Pompeo is a big ugly bully who got caught. A decent man would apologize, but Pompeo is not a decent man.
End of story.