Pompeo Denounces News Media, Undermining U.S. Message on Press Freedom

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo escalated his clash with a respected NPR journalist on Saturday, lashing out at her and what he called the “unhinged” news media in an extraordinary statement. A day earlier, he abruptly ended an interview with her and delivered what the news outlet described as a profanity-laced rant.

The statement, which used the fiery language to attack the news media that has become a trademark of President Trump’s, ignited outrage online among foreign policy experts, scholars of diplomacy and press freedom advocates.

Mr. Pompeo violated the goals and nonpartisan nature of his office, whose core mission is to promote American values worldwide, including freedom of the press, they said.

The interview between Mr. Pompeo and the reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, circulated widely after it was published on Friday night. Describing a tense exchange after a taped part of the interview, Ms. Kelly said that Mr. Pompeo shouted at her repeatedly using the “f-word” and challenged her to find Ukraine on an unlabeled map that his aides pulled out, which she did.

In his statement, released on Saturday morning by the State Department, Mr. Pompeo said: “It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this administration.”

He added, “It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.”

Mr. Pompeo also said Ms. Kelly, a veteran reporter who is a host of “All Things Considered,” had lied in “setting up our interview” and in agreeing to have the “post-interview conversation” off the record.

On the program, Ms. Kelly said Katie Martin, an aide to Mr. Pompeo who has worked in press relations, never asked for that conversation to be kept off the record, nor would she have agreed to do that.

Mr. Pompeo’s statement did not deny Ms. Kelly’s account of obscenities and shouting. NPR said Saturday that Ms. Kelly “has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report.” On Sunday, The New York Times obtained emails between Ms. Kelly and Ms. Martin that showed Ms. Kelly explicitly said the day before the interview that she would start with Iran and then ask about Ukraine. “I never agree to take anything off the table,” she wrote.

Mr. Pompeo has occasionally issued statements calling on authoritarian governments to respect press freedoms. But he has insulted journalists and has even cursed at diplomatic reporters in private meetings.

His Saturday statement was notable for the public — and broad — denunciation of the news media.

The fact that it was released by his office, at the head of a department known for its decorum, made it even more galling to many observers.

Five Democratic senators sent a letter on Saturday to Mr. Pompeo denouncing his “irresponsible” comments and the “corrosive effects of your behavior on American values and standing in the world.”

“The unavoidable reality is Pompeo never would have been in contention for a senior-level appointment in a normal GOP administration,” Thomas Wright, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, said on Twitter. “He was promoted beyond his abilities because so many people were ruled out. The delta between what’s required & what he has is now on full display.”

Mr. Pompeo, a hawkish evangelical Christian who is a former Republican congressman from Kansas, tries hard to display loyalty to Mr. Trump and reiterate the president’s positions on issues. Mr. Pompeo has aspirations to run for president in 2024, his associates say, and he ties his political future to Mr. Trump’s support. READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/25/us/politics/pompeo-mary-louise-kelly.html

Netflix Blocks Show in Saudi Arabia Critical of Saudi Prince

Netflix has blocked an episode of its show “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” from streaming in Saudi Arabia after the Saudi government complained that the episode — which is critical of the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman — violated its cybercrime laws.

In the episode, first shown in October, Mr. Minhaj critiques the United States’ longstanding relationship with Saudi Arabia after the murder of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Minhaj said, “and I mean that as a Muslim and an American.”

After receiving a takedown request last month from the Saudi government’s Communications and Information Technology Commission, Netflix removed the episode from viewing in Saudi Arabia last week. The news was first reported by The Financial Times.

In a statement, Netflix defended its decision: “We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and only removed this episode in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request — and to comply with local law.”

The episode remains available to Netflix customers elsewhere in the world, and it can also be seen by viewers in Saudi Arabia through the show’s YouTube channel, according to The Financial Times. YouTube did not immediately respond on Tuesday to an email asking whether it had received a complaint from the Saudi government.

The “Patriot Act” episode appears to be the only program that the Saudi government has asked Netflix to block there.

Mr. Minhaj has not commented publicly on the removal of the episode. But in an interview published in The Atlantic last month, Mr. Minhaj spoke of the fear he felt after creating it.

“There was a lot of discussion in my family about not doing it,” he said in the interview. “I’ve just come to personal and spiritual terms with what the repercussions are.”

Petition Calling for Adidas to Cut Ties With Kanye West Sees Spike in Signatures After Controversial Weekend

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After videos surfaced online of Kanye West’s cut pro-Trump speech during his Saturday Night Live performance, followed by a Twitter rant calling for the 13th amendment to be abolished, a Care2 petition calling on Adidas to cut ties with the rapper spiked to 26,000 signatures.

The petition was initially created back in May after Ye spoke a slew of controversial comments on TMZ, noting in particular that slavery was a choice. “Kanye West continues to show disregard for the influence of his role as a public figure with his support of Donald Trump’s policies and his confused Twitter rants on slavery, while the rest of black America is continually marginalized and subject to unjust laws and treatment,” the petition reads. “West has a right to free speech, and he has the right to spout lies and misinformation and misplaced opinions — but Adidas should not stand idly by and, effectively, condone his behavior and revisionist history.”

West’s SNL speech, which did not make it to air followed the theme of racism in America as the rapper sported a “Make America Great Again” hat. “It’s so many times that I talk to a white person about this, and they say, ‘How could you support Trump? He’s racist.’” he announced. “Well if I was concerned about racism, I would have moved out of America a long time ago. We don’t just make our decisions off of racism. I’ma break it down to you right now: If someone inspires me and I connect with them, I don’t have to believe in all they policies.”

SOURCE OF THIS STORY: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8477897/petition-adidas-to-cut-ties-kanye-west-signature-spike

Colin Kaepernick’s Name Apparently Scrubbed From the ‘Madden 19’ Soundtrack

KAPIt seems EA Sports made a controversial edit to YG’s “Big Bank” single.According to Pro Football Talk, the track will appear in the upcoming Madden NFL 19 video game with some noticeable omissions. EA Sports has reportedly censored the record’s profanity, racial slurs, drug references, as well as Colin Kaepernick’s name. No, really.

The former 49ers quarterback is given a shout-out in Big Sean’s original verse: “Feed me to the wolves, now I lead the pack and shit. You boys all cap, I’m more Colin Kaepernick;” however, a Twitter user has pointed out that the athlete’s name has been scrubbed from the Madden 19 soundtrack.

YG was apparently blindsided by the edit: “On my daughter. They ain’t run that by me,” he commented on Instagram. “That’s kold.”Big Sean was also apparently blindsided by the removal, tweeting that “nobody from my team approved any of this.”

EA Sports has not publicly addressed the censored line, but it’s hard to believe that the edit was a mistake. Pro Football Talk questioned why “Big Bank”—featuring Sean, 2 Chainz, and Nicki Minaj—was even used in the first place, considering the ongoing legal battle between Kaepernick and the NFL.

As many of you know, the 30-year-old free agent has accused the league, coaches, and owners of colluding against him, following his on-field protest against police brutality. Kaepernick claims various team owners have refused to sign him strictly because of his demonstrations. He remains unemployed.According to Pro Football Talk, Kaepernick was also edited out of the Madden 18 soundtrack. His name was also taken out of Mike Will Made-It’s “Bars of Soap” featuring Swae Lee.

SOURCE: https://www.complex.com/sports/2018/08/colin-kaepernick-name-censored-on-yg-big-bank-madden-nfl-19-soundtrack