People will hear about this.
January 25, 2020 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday, NPR anchor Mary Louise Kelly sat with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for an interview. Pompeo stormed off when the interview became hard for him, then afterwards, invited Kelly to his office, where he berated her, cursed at her, and bullied her. Today, Pompeo released a statement.
posted by valkane (114 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
He ends the statement with an assertion that appears to falsely imply Kelly was unable to locate Ukraine on a map.

"It is worth noting," he concludes with no further explanation, "that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine."


(For context, during the interview Pompeo evidently had his staff bring an unlabeled map and demanded that Kelly point to Ukraine on it.)

Did he not know where Ukraine was, and felt gotchaed at some point in his professional career when his ignorance was revealed? That's the only scenario I can imagine where it would make sense for him to regard it as plausible that a journalist wouldn't, to the point of lying about it.
posted by XMLicious at 9:18 PM on January 25 [22 favorites]


I bet it was Donald who pointed to Bangladesh on a map, thinking it was Ukraine.
posted by tclark at 9:20 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


So NPR's outrage will mean what exactly?

(aside, this post will not stand)...

We do need a new impeachment thread tho..
posted by Windopaene at 9:22 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I feel like something weird happened here that we didn't hear about. It doesn't make any sense that someone would misidentify Bangladesh as Ukraine, and if Pompeo were making it up out of whole cloth with intent to deceive then he would make up some more plausible country. I wonder if Trump dictated the statement, or if there is some inside baseball Bangladesh thing that none of us know about.
posted by value of information at 9:23 PM on January 25 [12 favorites]


So Pompeo has definitely pulled that trick before, because who has a blank map ready? And how big a map do you need to be able to tell that someone was pointing at Bangladesh?
posted by Etrigan at 9:25 PM on January 25 [30 favorites]


I want someone to bring him a map and ask him to point out bangladesh.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:27 PM on January 25 [22 favorites]


Did he not know where Ukraine was, and felt gotchaed at some point in his professional career when his ignorance was revealed? That's the only scenario I can imagine where it would make sense for him to regard it as plausible that a journalist wouldn't, to the point of lying about it.

Quite some time ago, the fine folks at Arms Control Wonk referred to Pompeo as the "stupidest motherfucker" in the whole administration, so this sounds pretty plausible.

From this October 2019 piece by Wired:

Pompeo seems to particularly bristle under tough questioning from female reporters.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:30 PM on January 25 [70 favorites]


I want a map that points out he doesn't get to scream at reporters because he's crooked as fuck.
posted by valkane at 9:30 PM on January 25 [32 favorites]


My favorite theory via Twitter is that Pompeo meant to say she'd confused Ukraine with Belarus (which is vaguely plausible) and himself confused Belarus with Bangladesh.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:32 PM on January 25 [102 favorites]


Kelly didn't misidentify Ukraine. Pompeo didn't say she did. He made an implication. He's playing the press here. Kelly was a correspondent in Ukraine, and she's not some kind of ignorant person. That whole thing about Bangladesh is a red herring.
posted by hippybear at 9:36 PM on January 25 [67 favorites]


Also, I'd like to see Pompeo identify New Mexico on a blank US map.
posted by hippybear at 9:38 PM on January 25 [16 favorites]


Also, I'd like to see Pompeo identify New Mexico on a blank US map.

He'd likely ask how new it was.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:40 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]


He seems kinda angry for a diplomat.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:43 PM on January 25 [64 favorites]


1912, I'm pretty sure. Although Santa Fe had Spaniards colonizing it around 1610 or so. And of course indigenous people have been there since Mesa Verde and even before. So... Yeah. New Mexico isn't really new.
posted by hippybear at 9:44 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I follow Ari Shapiro on twitter and he's usually not very much there but he's been retweeting a lot of stuff since this started and the press jury is pretty much that Kelly's account is accurate because her stuff is always accurate and she has the cred to back it up. She's seriously truly respected on a professional level by her colleagues.
posted by hippybear at 9:53 PM on January 25 [13 favorites]


It’s like the official theme song of Trump’s inauguration was “Send In The Clowns”
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:53 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


Pompeo is angling for a run at being president; I hope this ruins his chances but doubt it will, despite Kelly having emails that prove he's lying.
posted by anadem at 10:02 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


He seems kinda angry for a diplomat.

Which is really the point of the whole interview, regardless of the lunchroom drama Pompeo is generating with his lying statement.

The reason Pompeo is so angry is that Kelly was pushing him to explain why, as Secretary of State, he wasn't defending his own staff and career diplomats from political smears and attacks. A lot of career people at State are upset that their boss doesn't seem to care about sticking up for his own people. Pompeo really, really doesn't want to talk about it. That's the origin of the whole dispute.

And since Kelly stuck to her guns and refused to be bullied, he took to his own smear attack on a journalist after the fact.

I really don't know if the country will ever be the same even when Trump and his thuggish mobsters are all gone. The blatant lying, the bullying, the thuggery, and crimes have all been normalized. Half the country thinks this is okay.
posted by JackFlash at 10:03 PM on January 25 [118 favorites]


He's playing for an audience of one. "People Trump will hear about this."
posted by DowBits at 10:12 PM on January 25 [13 favorites]


1912, I'm pretty sure. Although Santa Fe had Spaniards colonizing it around 1610 or so. And of course indigenous people have been there since Mesa Verde and even before. So... Yeah. New Mexico isn't really new.

That's the joke, man!

But yeah, turning his failure to answer relevant questions in an intelligent way into a red-herring attack on the highly competent journalist raising those questions is...unsurprising at this point.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:16 PM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Kelly didn't misidentify Ukraine. Pompeo didn't say she did. He made an implication.

Yeah, that's my take, too: he's being a sneaky bastard by making everyone think that he's saying that Kelly misidentified Ukraine as Bangladesh, but the literal thing he's saying is that one country is not another country.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:17 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


>Pompeo as the "stupidest motherfucker"

vs.

"In 1986, Pompeo finished first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he majored in engineering management"

well, his course load wasn't exactly rocket science but that factoid is surprising given how well he fits in among the gang of clowns installed in this admin.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:27 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


I have two theories about where Bangladesh comes from.

1) Ukraine and Bangladesh are in kind of parallel locations within their immediate context. Perhaps Pompeo had this planned and produced a confusing, unlabeled map of South Asia. (So the correct answer would actually be "it's not on here, this is South Asia.") That's the only scenario where I can sort of see Kelly briefly gesturing towards Bangladesh and then Pompeo snatches the map away and says "People will hear about this!"

2) Pompeo was so overconfident that she would get it wrong that he imagined that she pointed at Bangladesh, when she didn't.

I like these theories better than the idea that the last line is a blatantly gaslighting lie, but of course that's also possible with this administration. (I guess they could have picked Bangladesh after considering other claims, like Georgia. They were like, "nah, that sound petty, we need something that is plausible but also blatantly wrong.")
posted by anhedonic at 10:29 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I like these theories better than the idea that the last line is a blatantly gaslighting lie

And yet, that seems to be what is actually happening here.
posted by hippybear at 10:38 PM on January 25 [50 favorites]


The map bit is bonkers and I get that it has captured the popular imagination. But the part that I would prefer "people will hear about.." is the part where Kelly is pressing the Trump admin's number one foreign relations official who, as it turns out, will not and very likely cannot articulate a nuclear deterrence strategy more specific than "we'll stop them."
Kelly: But my question again, how do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?
Pompeo: We'll stop them.
Kelly: How? Sanctions?
Pompeo: We'll stop them.
By now we've seen, time and time again, that when the Trump administration can't explain its policy it's because they don't have the miraculous plan they're promising and often don't have any plan at all.

As distasteful as Pompeo's unprofessional, undiplomatic, and quite likely sexist treatment of a reporter from a major media organization is, I'm still more concerned about the part where the Secretary of State cannot express a comprehensible American foreign policy.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:13 PM on January 25 [93 favorites]


Henry Farrell in the Washington Post points to data showing that if she really confused Bangladesh and Ukraine, she is a woman with an advanced degree in European studies who is way below the average, uninformed American who at least knows the difference between Eastern Europe and the rest of the world.

I like these theories better than the idea that the last line is a blatantly gaslighting lie

It is sort of fitting that NPR be subjected to someone else's eagerness to spend time trying to make this a "both sides" thing, but this is a really simple case. Pompeo was just on air trying to imply that he defended the whole "team" at the state department, that only "unnamed" sources said anything different, that quotes under oath saying otherwise are something someone "might have said." These are all matters of public record and he's telling gaslighting lies.

I get the human urge to explain away inconsistencies, but there's no inconsistency here. You're spending all this brainpower to invent a scenario that would be out of character.
posted by mark k at 11:38 PM on January 25 [25 favorites]


In 1986, Pompeo finished first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point

cf. Ben Carson. If you've ever spent time in academia you know that no matter how brilliant someone is in their own discipline, most of them are dumber than dog shit (in relative terms) in any other.

The good ones are humble about it. The bad ones get nominated to cabinet.
posted by klanawa at 11:55 PM on January 25 [47 favorites]


He also has a JD from Harvard. He’s not a simpleton
posted by mr_roboto at 12:08 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


You can be booksmart but not be able to navigate the world well. Hes spent his entire life safely snuggled into the white, Christian male good old boy network and there's no evidence he ever did or could do anything on his own. Combine that with arrogance, low emotional intelligence and a high pressure situation where he's expected to act alone and he's going to fail. He thinks the only way to be good at this job is to try and find some orders to follow, but good luck with that in this clownshow of a government. He's also not smart enough to realize he should pretend to respect women and the rule of law. McConnell doesn't give a fuck, he's done but all these clowns emulating him that still want to have a career in 2 years are in for a rude awakening.

Hopefully he goes down in flames sooner than later. He's too dumb to be in that position
posted by fshgrl at 12:18 AM on January 26 [38 favorites]


“What was the penalty to Vladimir Putin for taking one-fifth of a European nation?” Pompeo asked during a speech in Wichita just days before the 2016 election, in reference to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. The Obama administration “passed some sanctions. Anybody think that that’s sufficient? … There will be those who say ‘It’s not our problem: Ukraine shmukraine. My children can’t find it on a map.’ Let me assure you that the reordering of Europe is first among the agendas for Vladimir Putin. And that, I have to tell you, is not good for the people of Kansas.”

“I know what our presidential candidate has said. Let me assure you: The attacks on our political system are in fact coming from Vladimir Putin. I have seen the intelligence,” Pompeo continued, in reference to Trump’s denials on the campaign trail of Russian interference in the U.S. election. “This is Vladimir Putin trying to make America look like a third-world country.”
So the short answer to the Bangaladesh thing is that he's deranged from punching himself every waking moment for several years now.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:21 AM on January 26 [44 favorites]


He's way in over his head. The more politically savvy GOP like Ryan, Bohner and Cruz all found excuses to not be part of this shitshow, hoping they could come back later. Pompeo thought he could use Trump for his own benefit but he overestimated his ability to manage Trump and underestimated how insane and contemptuous of government he is. Pompeo thought he thought he was another good old boy adhering to an unspoken code of solidarity, but he's a senile old gangster with nothing but contempt for the likes of Pompeo.

Watching all these idiots get hung out to dry crying about unfairness has been the only enjoyable part of the past few years.
posted by fshgrl at 1:09 AM on January 26 [32 favorites]


This may be the first time since the Kroc bequest that NPR has stood up to Republicans. I can't say it isn't welcome, but it might be too little, too late.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:15 AM on January 26 [23 favorites]


How does she or any self-respecting reporter not ask (grill) him about his belief in and potential support for the “end times” and the “rapture”? Pompeo is clearly on far end of the Christian cult spectrum.
posted by specialk420 at 1:23 AM on January 26 [11 favorites]


i think pompeo should be taken immediately to a hole in the ground to test his knowledge of anatomy
posted by pyramid termite at 2:33 AM on January 26 [23 favorites]


If you are a white male from a prosperous background, you can do very well without knowing or comprehending much.
I only recently stopped being surprised by this, so I get that people are confused.

Anyway, what surprises me is that the man has a political career and he doesn't know that tough questions from journalists are part of the job, and that taking responsibility for the US foreign policy and managing the State Department is the job. In the olden days, politicians could be lying crooks, but they's at least pretend they were doing their jobs.
posted by mumimor at 2:58 AM on January 26 [41 favorites]


... if Pompeo were making it up out of whole cloth with intent to deceive then he would make up some more plausible country.

You're giving him far too much credit. Along with the rest of the Trump Administration, he believes that whatever he says is Truth, even when it contradicts what he said yesterday. This Truth is not subject to challenge, and does not need to agree with anything factual, or anything anyone else has said.

If there were a god, when he uses words like integrity, shameful, lying, and decency, they would burn in his mouth, and he would have to stop talking.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:31 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


Kelly: But my question again, how do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?
Pompeo: We'll stop them.
Kelly: How? Sanctions?
Pompeo: We'll stop them.


This Trump team is like bad parents personified.

Father: No, you can't have that thing you want.
Child: Why?
Father: Because.

Unfortunately, the kids often turn out terrible.
posted by chavenet at 3:38 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


The map bit has been a thing for a while. "I went into a bar and asked people to point to X on a map and here are all the places they pointed" has gone around on Facebook recently for Ukraine, Iran, Australia, and probably other countries in the news as well, with the (stated or unstated) implication that Those Other Americans are too ignorant to have opinions that count. And I remember similar maps for Iraq and Afghanistan back in the day.

Having the map on hand as a prepared gotcha is still weird, but the idea that map illiteracy discredits someone's foreign policy positions is an old one.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:36 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


Since they all want to be seen as tough guy gangsters, I suspect that there is in fact a plan to 'stop them,' and it's just violence.
posted by cosimoilvecchio at 4:36 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Discredit and vilify the media. One more step in the devolution of our democracy while half of America stands and applauds. What will this country look like in 2024? I shudder to think.
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 4:55 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


But on the bright side, if there is one, he did take the interview.
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 4:57 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what nebulawindphone said..."X said Y but i bet she couldn't find Ukraine on a map so..."
posted by nevercalm at 4:59 AM on January 26


the "how?/we'll stop them" exchanges vaguely reminds me of Bush, who when asked about our strategy in Iraq, would just repeat what his goals were. I think he really didn't understand the difference; Pompeo, I bet, does, and is just stonewalling to show what a tough guy he is. The whole executive branch has been turned into a Trump rally; this is fine.....
posted by thelonius at 5:10 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


It's been the same mantra for four years now. "The press is mean and unfair! They report what we say and what we do!"
posted by Miss Cellania at 5:22 AM on January 26 [17 favorites]


I'm more than a little shocked that NPR actually pushed back against a lying Republican. How often does that happen?
posted by octothorpe at 5:29 AM on January 26 [24 favorites]


I was recently chatting with some co-workers about some "X% of Americans can't find Iraq on a map" stat one had found and he wanted to test us. So we pulled up an unlabeled map on the phone and... it turns out that it's really hard to tell what anything is if water and land aren't differentiated. Iraq wasn't so hard (it has a distinctive shape and you can find Yemen and Oman pretty easily and go from there), but Ukraine was--Bulgaria and the Black Sea are kind of similarly shaped, at least in my head.(Italy would probably really help to orient yourself to Europe, but we were swiping over from Iraq.)
posted by hoyland at 5:37 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


(I suppose I must say that I got both. The third co-worker got one and missed on, but I don't remember which.)
posted by hoyland at 5:38 AM on January 26


Maybe Pompeo tried to fool her with a bad map projection.
posted by TedW at 5:42 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


I can picture Pompeo dictating the Bangladesh line, thinking it was clever. The fact that it’s asshole-y and that it obviously doesn’t rule out Kelly’s version of events so it isn’t technically false is part of why he says it—it’s him showing off how little he cares for professional behavior while holding on to the excuse that he didn’t literally lie.

There are lots of different ways of being an idiot (being proud to treat other people like crap is one) and making it through West Point and Harvard Law only rules out a couple of them.
posted by sallybrown at 5:57 AM on January 26 [19 favorites]


Again, he never said she picked Bangladesh. The statement is there to imply it, but there’s no reason to dream up elaborate map scenarios that somehow confused her. He’s just using a cheap rhetorical trick.

I was in the car when this interview aired and it was so jaw-droppingly bad (his anger at the questions about why he failed to support his staff, the toddler-esque repetition of “we’ll stop them” as official foreign policy for Iran) that I’m very lucky there wasn’t much traffic. I was stunned. And that’s even before I heard about the aftermath.

I’m shocked that this administration can still shock me, three years in.
posted by Superplin at 6:00 AM on January 26 [43 favorites]


"It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency," he writes.
The American media environment needs to develop less of an "off the record" tradition and more of a media scrum tradition. American politicians expect altogether too much deference from American reporters.
posted by clawsoon at 6:01 AM on January 26 [15 favorites]


"He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map; I said yes," she continued. "He called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, 'People will hear about this.' "

I think we all assume that other people’s interior lives are much like our own*. A loving person lives in a loving world; a trusting person believes everyone is trusting; a fearful person imagines everyone is as fearful as they. Certainly the Current Occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave reckons that everyone is as unengaged and incurious as he. It stands to reason that someone baffled by the world and unable to recall which country is where (despite it being a fairly crucial facet of the job) would believe everyone else around them to be equally perplexed, and might keep a blank map handy just for those, “Oh yeah? If you’re so smart, then show me where...” moments.

* Incidentally, this would also explain why a strangely large number of homophobic anti-gay crusaders — preachers and politicians both — seem to turn out to be engaged in same-sex affairs themselves. “Well, if I am straight and I enjoy gay sex, then clearly it is a terrible danger that can afflict anyone with temptation. I must protect others from falling into this trap.”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:23 AM on January 26 [18 favorites]


I get the sinking feeling that Bangladesh is the next target for "impeachment distraction". I hope I'm wrong.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:29 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


I think we all assume that other people’s interior lives are much like our own*. A loving person lives in a loving world; a trusting person believes everyone is trusting; a fearful person imagines everyone is as fearful as they. Certainly the Current Occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave reckons that everyone is as unengaged and incurious as he.

It's a good point, always important to remember. I think Trump is exactly like my dog: a very fearful and ignorant being who barks very loudly to keep all the scary stuff away.
posted by mumimor at 6:39 AM on January 26 [14 favorites]


I'm more than a little shocked that NPR actually pushed back against a lying Republican.

Well, they are pushing back because the lie is targeted at the anchor of their flagship news program*. It's good that they're doing it, but what is the alternative? Agreeing that yeah, one of our most visible and important journalists is a lying idiot?

*Not actually sure of ATC or Morning Edition is considered the flagship program, but for sure both are very important to NPR.
posted by jeoc at 6:52 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Kelly is an impressive interviewer and appears to be one of the few NPR journalists willing to ask tough questions. I heard her interview Rep Kennedy from Louisiana and she ran circles around him and didn’t let him get away with his spin and lies.
posted by terrapin at 6:54 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


I'm more than a little shocked that NPR actually pushed back against a lying Republican. How often does that happen?
Often, but unless you’re a regular listener you don’t hear about it because someone doing their job doesn’t generate outrage. This is especially noticeable for conversations cued by Twitter where the algorithm will resurface old outrage periodically for weeks.
posted by adamsc at 6:59 AM on January 26 [17 favorites]


What is it with this administration? It's like they're all hiding some kind of secret they fear would spoil the entire republican establishment if it got out
posted by captain afab at 6:59 AM on January 26 [12 favorites]


Diplopundit has been collecting takes on Pompeo's tantrum.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:30 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


What it is with this administration is that getting into power required a lot of lying and a lot of people willing to be lied to, and staying in power depends on supporters' ongoing willingness to debase themselves in a sunk-cost-fallacy perpetual motion machine of dishonesty and disingenuousness. Everyone understands that perpetual motion machines don't actually exist, but nobody is quite sure which bit of friction is going to finally bring this one to a halt.
posted by jon1270 at 7:38 AM on January 26 [17 favorites]


adamsc: "
I'm more than a little shocked that NPR actually pushed back against a lying Republican. How often does that happen?
Often, but unless you’re a regular listener you don’t hear about it because someone doing their job doesn’t generate outrage. This is especially noticeable for conversations cued by Twitter where the algorithm will resurface old outrage periodically for weeks.
"

I'm not a regular listener these days but I used to be and quit because I got so mad when I did listen and they let Republicans say whatever bullshit they wanted and never tried to correct them. I'm not getting these impressions second-hand, I listened to them suck up to the right for years before I gave up on them.
posted by octothorpe at 8:07 AM on January 26 [40 favorites]


Yeah. He's blustering.
posted by joeyh at 8:08 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Often, but unless you’re a regular listener you don’t hear about it because someone doing their job doesn’t generate outrage. This is especially noticeable for conversations cued by Twitter where the algorithm will resurface old outrage periodically for weeks.

that's weird, because every time i tune in i usually hear steve inskip and scott simon bending backwards to offer "both sides"

at some point during my lifetime journalism ceased to be about reporting the truth and became reporting "both sides1." npr crossed that rubicon around the time of the iraq war, to my recollection

--
1. As if there were only two sides to any issue.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:09 AM on January 26 [19 favorites]


This is pure autocratic braying - they'll be openly calling for the murder of journalists w/in the year, I'm guessing.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:11 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


what is the alternative

The alternative is throwing her under the bus -- doing exactly what Pompeo has done to his own employees, including Yovanovitch, which is the point in the interview where Pompeo goes off the rails. By visibly and vocally standing behind Mary-Louise Kelly, NPR leadership is not only doing the right thing by journalistic ethics and their own flagship program, they're also offering meta-level commentary on Pompeo's tantrum.

It's that next-level trolling that keeps me a sustaining member.
posted by basalganglia at 8:18 AM on January 26 [15 favorites]


Forget the last line of Pompeo's statement which is just a petty insult that's gotten everyone riled up.

The real news is the first sentence in which Pompeo accuses Kelly of two lies. The first is that she violated an agreement to only talk about Iran. Kelly literally has written memos from Pompeo and his staff saying that the topics would be Ukraine and Iran. He's flat out lying about facts the way Trump lied about the size of his inaugural crowd or that Alabama would be hit by a hurricane. It's flat out denial of objective facts.

And since when do politicians get to tell reporters what questions they are allowed to ask?

And then he accuses her of violating an agreement about the second part, where Pompeo yells and curses at her, as being off the record when they had no such agreement. Pompeo has a complete unhinged mental breakdown and he expects the journalist to dutifully cover it up or else he will smear her. He even issues a threat "people will hear about this."

With this administration its all about their people loyally covering their eyes and denying reality. If you don't, they will destroy you.
posted by JackFlash at 8:25 AM on January 26 [38 favorites]


To be fair, when you do something newsworthy in the presence of a journalist, it's probably a pretty safe bet that people will hear about it.
posted by biogeo at 8:32 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


What I see is that Pompeo whether by design or clumsiness created a semi vivid story puzzle that becomes the story in place of the real story which is about what the original interview was getting at. It reminds me of prosecuting the victim in a murder trial.
posted by Pembquist at 8:32 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]


He also has a JD from Harvard. He’s not a simpleton.

He's a white Christian evangelical who spends a lot of time talking about the "end times" and the "rapture." He's a simpleton.

Which should scare the hell out of you when he answers questions like this:

Kelly: But my question again, how do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?
Pompeo: We'll stop them.
Kelly: How? Sanctions?
Pompeo: We'll stop them.

posted by JackFlash at 8:46 AM on January 26 [32 favorites]


This all seems to be some twisted manifestation of the very likely fact that Trump couldn't find Iran, Ukraine, Bangladesh, or many other countries on a map. And because everyone knows that about him, they have to accuse others of being that way. Like they do with everything else.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:46 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


I started a really long response, but basically Pompeo's behavior (limit what questions are asked, rant loudly in private and claim its off the record) would have worked fine for him for most of his career. Reporters growing sources agree to which questions they'll ask. And NPR wouldn't be reporting the tantrum if it were assistant deputy undersecretary who did it, it would have been one of those stories that circulates among reporters but readers don't see.

Also, unless I've missed it, no one's mentioned his interview with Tennessee reporter Nancy Amons? Very similar behavior and indignation.
posted by mark k at 8:54 AM on January 26 [14 favorites]


Curiously it had come out in the past few months that Rudy Guiliani also has a long history of berating and cursing at journalists and then trying to claim it was "off the record." Which Republican PR stooge is teaching them this tactic?
posted by muddgirl at 9:05 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


** the nation's top diplomat **

And, just to be clear,

"the nation's top diplomat"
posted by sneebler at 9:18 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


The NYT covers the story and confirms the emails about the topics of conversation exist. And talks about this being a pattern of behavior from Pompeo.
posted by hippybear at 9:27 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


Now that all the usual suspects are piling in to question why NPR should even be allowed to exist when it's supposedly all left-wing propaganda and costing incalculable amounts to every taxpayer, there's a lesson here that somehow still need to be learned by most of the newsmedia: it is impossible to earn credit from Republicans for being fair to them. There is no amount of time and space you can dedicate to thoughtful consideration of their views that will get you a reprieve. When the time comes to denounce you, all the chances you gave their politicians to rant and rave about who is and isn't a person will not be tallied and you will have earned no favor for it. You cannot couch criticism gently enough to have it ignored, and you cannot discuss their non-reprehensible traits glowingly enough to have it remembered. If you hug war criminals you will be told you should have hugged them more lovingly, and if you punch leftists you will be told you should have beheaded them. The dedicated right wing of this US cannot be appeased by anything anyone here would conscion, and any time and effort spent trying to do so is squandered.
posted by Copronymus at 9:39 AM on January 26 [76 favorites]


Kelly: But my question again, how do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?
Pompeo: We'll stop them.
Kelly: How? Sanctions?
Pompeo: We'll stop them.

Danny: Is the reason you won't tell us about it that it's a... secret?
Josh: Yeah, Danny, we have a secret inflation plan.
posted by zutphen at 9:41 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


Yes, Mark, that Nancy Amons interview is just outstanding. She is a local reporter for the Nashville TV station. She looks like your little old grandmother but she has a razor sharp intellect that doesn't take bullshit.

Some speculated that Pompeo was expecting easy questions when he sat down with her. Amons thinks that’s likely. “People do underestimate me a lot because I’m five feet tall and I walk in and I’m this little short blonde,” she said. “I hope to be friendly and polite, and then they don’t see the questions coming, I guess.”

Amons: “Did you do enough to defend the ambassador, privately and publicly, against the smear campaign that was being waged against her, and will you speak to that now?"
Pompeo: “Well, ma’am, you have some of your facts wrong, so you should be careful about things you assert as facts before you state them."
Always with the threats.

Three times she asks if Pompeo met with Giuiliani in Warsaw and three times he refuses to answer.
Amons: “It sounds like you’re not going to say”, finally.

When she asks him about Ukraine:
Pompeo: "You've got your facts wrong. It sounds like you are working for the Democratic National Committee." Always with the smears.

Pompeo struggles to maintain a gritted teeth smile but it is clear he wants to grab her by the neck and strangle her. And when they finish, Amons tries to engage him is a little small talk at the end like she did at the beginning but Pompeo is having nothing to do with it. He rips off his microphone and rushes out of the room. Boy, he is pissed.
Amons: “I think he liked me less at the end.”

It really is inspiring to see this little 5-foot lady, just a local TV reporter, bravely stand up to this thuggish bully.
posted by JackFlash at 9:44 AM on January 26 [55 favorites]


Republican campaign to destroy standards and institutions that are foundational to democracy: going as planned.
posted by spindrifter at 9:47 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


Why does he feel the need to say multiple times that he "knows what our Ukraine policy is?"
posted by Uncle at 9:52 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


Often, but unless you’re a regular listener you don’t hear about it because someone doing their job doesn’t generate outrage. This is especially noticeable for conversations cued by Twitter where the algorithm will resurface old outrage periodically for weeks.

I was a regular listener for over a decade until I didn't like what I was hearing during the Bush administration (enhanced interrogation techniques, etc), at which point I stopped donating and listening. My poor opinion is my own. I came to it honestly based on things I heard them say in real time. I didn't and still don't need Twitter to stoke my anger at them.
posted by great_radio at 9:58 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


Why does he feel the need to say multiple times that he "knows what our Ukraine policy is?"

He's trying to distance himself from the background "drug deal" that Giuliani is working. His position is that the withholding of aid to Ukraine had nothing to do with extortion. It's also why he refuses to admit that he met with Giuliani in Warsaw.

You might wonder why Warsaw keeps coming up. It's because the most significant part of the trip was a side meeting that Pence and Pompeo had with Zelensky where they clarified the terms of the drug deal.
posted by JackFlash at 10:05 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]


From the NYTimes article posted by hippy bear above:
“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.”
All the best people
posted by mumimor at 10:12 AM on January 26 [42 favorites]


>He's a white Christian evangelical who spends a lot of time talking about the "end times" and the "rapture." He's a simpleton.

As I like saying, Alan Kay's "Point of view is worth 80 IQ Points" works in both directions I guess...
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:29 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Reiterating what I wrote in the impeachment thread, the map business was an act of bullying. Kelly's knowledge of geography has no bearing on the legitimacy of her questions. Pompeo felt aggrieved and wanted to humiliate her. We do Kelly more of a service by focusing on the substance here - Pompeo's lies, bullying and inability to articulate policy.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:37 AM on January 26 [10 favorites]


Does Glorious Leader also have to pass the map test? That's a rhetorical question. Not one guy in this administration could locate his own asshole with both hands, unless you put some stolen money in it to help him focus.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:39 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


Reiterating what I wrote in the impeachment thread, the map business was an act of bullying.

To be more clear, everything in the situation from when he walked out of the interview and then his staffer asked Kelly to come into his personal living space without her recorder was an act of bullying. His tirade lasted longer than the interview, he spent the entire time trying to make Kelly feel small through his use of language and his accusations. The map schtick was only just more of that. As was his statement the following day. The man is a bully. That's been obvious for a long time, this is just the most public example of it thus far.
posted by hippybear at 10:44 AM on January 26 [11 favorites]


where they clarified the terms of the drug deal.

Why do they call it that, when no drugs are involved? Is this some kind of dog whistle?
posted by Rash at 10:50 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


I was in the car when this interview aired and it was so jaw-droppingly bad ... that I’m very lucky there wasn’t much traffic.

A public-service message: Please do not listen to Republicans while driving.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:50 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Why do they call it that, when no drugs are involved? Is this some kind of dog whistle?

It's a reference to the illegal drug trade, i.e. they're doing things covertly that they know wouldn't be acceptable if done openly.
posted by jon1270 at 10:57 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


where they clarified the terms of the drug deal.

Why do they call it that, when no drugs are involved? Is this some kind of dog whistle?


The use of the term (which I first ran across in the U.S. military, but I don't know whether it originated there) was to indicate "This arrangement that we have made is not going to be reflected on any official paperwork", generally because it circumvented the bureaucracy rather than being straight-up illegal.

For example, A Company is going to an exercise and doesn't have the appropriate number of vehicles to transport all of its equipment because one of the trucks is still broken from the last exercise because the part is on back-order. So maybe the A Company motor sergeant just arranges to pick up a set of keys from his counterpart in C Company and everyone pretends they did the paperwork, which is a huge hassle and besides, they're going to bring back the truck in a week. That's a drug deal. Everyone goes into knowing that, if the truck comes back and isn't damaged, then it never happened at all; but if something bad happens like a surprise inventory of C Company or the truck breaks an axle two states away, then someone is going to be the fall guy.

I never thought of it as a dog whistle. Everyone does drug deals.
posted by Etrigan at 11:03 AM on January 26 [22 favorites]


Why do they call it that, when no drugs are involved? Is this some kind of dog whistle?

It comes directly from Fiona Hill's testimony before the House investigation committee. She testified that her boss NSA chief John Bolton said “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up” as a warning to her not to get involved.

He's using it as a euphemism for a shady, illegal scheme to extort the Ukrainians.
posted by JackFlash at 11:06 AM on January 26 [14 favorites]


Everyone does drug deals.

Probably, but that's what I consider cutting corners -- attaching a "drugs" label to this specific case seems like a red herring to me.
posted by Rash at 11:13 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Often, but unless you’re a regular listener you don’t hear about it because someone doing their job doesn’t generate outrage.

I missed the Ukraine part of this interview, because I had to turn it off during the Iran part — Pompeo‘s lies and empty bluster were so egregious and transparent, and she just kept letting him get away with it.

All I can think is that she was keeping her powder dry for the Ukraine questions. So Iran just needed to be thrown under the bus.

I think it’s great that Pompeo is showing everyone what a greasy toad he is, but if this was a “great moment in journalism” we are so fucked.
posted by bjrubble at 11:16 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


Everyone does drug deals.

Probably, but that's what I consider cutting corners -- attaching a "drugs" label to this specific case seems like a red herring to me.


Cutting corners is something that one* person does (possibly with other people's tacit approval); a drug deal is something that multiple* people have agreed to.

* -- The use of "one" and "multiple" here refers more to chains of command than individuals. If I order a subordinate to cut corners, that's not a drug deal.
posted by Etrigan at 11:17 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


So the interview was good--Kelly was well prepared and able to confront an evasive liar in a clear and succinct way. I think a lot of times people (well, me, anyway) tend to default to an interview where lies and half truths are let slide and think it's because of norms about civility and courtesy and balance, or even a lack of nerve. It's partly that but you also need to be really well prepared to do it, which is hard when the person trying to lie and distract can invent things from any angle and you suddenly need to recall facts and sourcing on a dozen different topics. Kelly had the goods this time (and also, Pompeo is really incompetent at this.)

But I do want to beat on one of my perennial media complaints: The follow up tantrum and the reporting on it, while satisfying, is scandal reporting. The media always does that better than reporting on policy and substance, where they let themselves be bound by false balance and lousy framing. NPR should be reporting the capricious, id-driven, alliance-destroying foreign policy disasters in Iran and North Korea more plainly but they struggle to find a way to do it; a man baby throws a temper tantrum against a reporter and they will be unequivocal in their condemnation. So this is all good but don't think it's a sign our media is turning a corner, getting fed up with the lies, etc. Continue to expect a higher standard across the board.
posted by mark k at 11:26 AM on January 26 [29 favorites]


So the interview was good--Kelly was well prepared and able to confront an evasive liar in a clear and succinct way.

I heard the interview before I heard about the scandal and I said to my partner in surprise, "That's pretty feisty for NPR." It was good, in a way they typically aren't. In this case, though, I think reporting on the scandal doesn't hurt. Pompeo is right, sadly, when he asks if Americans care about Ukraine. Mostly they don't. The same with Yovanovitch. But it will have the effect of turning off some people to the Trump administration's bullying style. If Trump continues to lose support among white women, it will hurt on election day.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 1:14 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


I believe Mary Louise.
posted by Savannah at 2:12 PM on January 26 [9 favorites]


Since the 2016 election, NPR has gotten much better about having one of their expert correspondents or editors on the subject (congress, president, foreign policy, etc.) sitting in and listening during live interviews, and then after the interview is over, letting that person rebut falsehoods in the interview and have the final word. It is not perfect, but it is better. For other folks known to be shitty interview subjects or who don't answer questions well, like Pompeo or Doug Collins, they do taped interviews and interject interpretation and refutation right into what they play on air. It is a vast improvement over how they used to do it, often letting falsehoods stand.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:59 PM on January 26 [20 favorites]


Now that all the usual suspects are piling in to question why NPR should even be allowed to exist when it's supposedly all left-wing propaganda and costing incalculable amounts to every taxpayer, there's a lesson here that somehow still need to be learned by most of the newsmedia: it is impossible to earn credit from Republicans for being fair to them. There is no amount of time and space you can dedicate to thoughtful consideration of their views that will get you a reprieve. When the time comes to denounce you, all the chances you gave their politicians to rant and rave about who is and isn't a person will not be tallied and you will have earned no favor for it. You cannot couch criticism gently enough to have it ignored, and you cannot discuss their non-reprehensible traits glowingly enough to have it remembered. If you hug war criminals you will be told you should have hugged them more lovingly, and if you punch leftists you will be told you should have beheaded them. The dedicated right wing of this US cannot be appeased by anything anyone here would conscion, and any time and effort spent trying to do so is squandered.

Soundtrack: Embrace the Fascists
posted by eviemath at 6:52 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


“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 fact that a series of 'normal' GOP administrations and many long-and-still-serving GOP members have been instrumental in leading us to this precipice make me far less willing to give them a pass here.

Trump is the logical and entirely predictable conclusion of a half-century of GOP policy.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:27 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


Pompeo is angling for a run at being president; I hope this ruins his chances but doubt it will, despite Kelly having emails that prove he's lying.

When would that be? After Ivanka's third term, or Spencer's fourth?
posted by happyroach at 10:07 PM on January 26


Oops. I meant her interview with Doug Collins was good. She didn’t let him dodge and weave and lie.
posted by terrapin at 4:40 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Hes spent his entire life safely snuggled into the white, Christian male good old boy network and there's no evidence he ever did or could do anything on his own. Combine that with arrogance, low emotional intelligence and a high pressure situation where he's expected to act alone and he's going to fail. He thinks the only way to be good at this job is to try and find some orders to follow, but good luck with that in this clownshow of a government.

On top of all of that, I like to view this incident as evidence of how rattled the Trump Administration is over the Ukraine scandal in general and impeachment in particular.

As Josh Marshall put it back at the beginning of Trump's term, whatever we do know about these crooks, there seems to be something else they're hiding, something else they're desperate no one ever finds out.

Pompeo is a moral coward, and they're all scared.
posted by Gelatin at 6:53 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


> I believe Mary Louise.

I do too, so let's use her full name, or Kelly, or Ms. Kelly.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:40 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


I want the Nancy Amons t-shirt:

I think he like me less at the end
posted by JackFlash at 8:23 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I was in the car when this interview aired and it was so jaw-droppingly bad [...] I’m very lucky there wasn’t much traffic. I was stunned. And that’s even before I heard about the aftermath.

I’m shocked that this administration can still shock me, three years in.


This was my exact reaction, too. I happened to be driving without an aux cord, for the first time in a while (I also stopped defaulting to NPR for driving, and switched to a podcasts-only routine) and this interview was what was on. I did have to pull over because I was so shocked. I thought it couldn't get much wilder after Kelly reported Pompeo glaring at her, but boy was I wrong. And! happily surprised by the way NPR has handled it.
posted by witchen at 8:57 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


According to a New York Times correspondent, the State Department has removed NPR reporter Michele Kelemen from the press pool of Pompeo’s overseas trip this week.
posted by brentajones at 3:50 PM on January 27 [9 favorites]


Well, Pompeo's stop in Kiev might be a bit awkward after Kelly's revelation that Pompeo shouted at her "Americans don't give a fuck about Ukraine."
posted by JackFlash at 7:12 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I'd assumed he said "Do you think Americans care about fucking Ukraine" or "Do you think Americans fucking care about Ukraine". Based on the wording she reported from this not-recorded meeting.
posted by hippybear at 7:41 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


*
posted by Reverend John at 7:59 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Man, every single one of the administration is a Fredo.
posted by reiichiroh at 11:41 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]




He also has a JD from Harvard. He’s not a simpleton

His boss is grossly unqualified for his job, lies daily, excessively, and repeatedly, and can't English coherently. Intelligence, judging character, and most certainly strategic thinking are not his strong suits.
posted by prepmonkey at 12:05 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Pompeo Called Me a ‘Liar.’ That’s Not What Bothers Me.

I write about all this now to refocus attention on the substance of the interviews, which has been overshadowed by Mr. Pompeo’s subsequently swearing at me, calling me a liar and challenging me to find Ukraine on an unmarked map.

For the record, I did. That’s not the point. The point is that recently the risk of miscalculation — of two old adversaries misreading each other and accidentally escalating into armed confrontation — has felt very real. It occurs to me that swapping insults through interviews with journalists such as me might, terrifyingly, be as close as the top diplomats of the United States and Iran came to communicating this month.

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:25 PM on January 29 [5 favorites]


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