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Daily Action: Demand Media Access & Transparency from Tillerson


CONTACT:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
DC: (202) 224-3841
LA: (310) 914-7300
Sen. Kamala Harris
DC: (202) 224-3553
LA: (213) 894-5000
Rep. Julia Brownley: 
DC: (202) 225-5811
Thousand Oaks: (805) 379-1779
Rep. Ted Lieu:
DC: (202) 225-3976 
LA: (323) 651-1040
Rep. Steve Knight:
DC: (202) 225-1956
Simi Valley: (805) 581-7130

Short Script:
Hello! My name is _______, and I am a constituent of Representative/Senator __________'s in ____________, California. I'm calling to urge her/him to write Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and insist that he pursue a more open and transparent policy toward the news media. Tillerson committed to a high level of transparency during his confirmation hearings, but this week he left his press corps behind when he took a major diplomatic trip to Asia. We are entitled to know what policies are being pursued in our name, and Secretary Tillerson needs to be reminded that he works for the American people now, not a private company. Please ask the representative/senator to demand that Tillerson engage the press corps on a daily basis, and on all trips abroad. Thank you!

 
BACKGROUND
For decades, it has been standard practice for a press corps to travel with the Secretary of State -- to ensure that American foreign policy is transparent, and to make sure the Secretary is accountable for the work he or she does on America's behalf. However, until this week's Asia trip, Rex Tillerson had only held one on-camera briefing since assuming office. He has yet to appoint a press secretary. And this week he broke with tradition by not allowing the press pool to accompany him on his trip to Asia this week -- a decision that prevented the nation's foremost reporters on diplomatic affairs from providing independent and expert accounts of the Secretary’s actions.

Tillerson’s shunning of the press, and his refusal to openly articulate our foreign policy goals and actions, also threatens to dampen American influence abroad -- particularly its moral influence. This week, a spokesman for the Japanese Embassy in Washington expressed concern about Tillerson and the Trump administration's handling of the media, suggesting it sets a bad example for other democracies. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has appropriated Trump’s rhetoric as it continues to stifle any semblance of a free press in that country. The Chinese state-run news agency even has accused foreign media of creating “fake news” full of “cleverly orchestrated lies.”