TOO GOOD TO CHECK. AP Says the Tillerson No-Eye-Contact Story Is #FakeNews

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, second left, shakes hands with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor-Viorel Melescanu during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Friday, March 31, 2017. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with his NATO counterparts in Brussels for the first time looking to persuade reluctant allies to increase defense spending and do more to combat terrorism. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

The Washington Post ran a hit piece on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today.

It is no secret that large parts of the State Department are unhappy with the Trump administration in general and Tillerson in particular. Tillerson’s vision for the State Department is radically different than that of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Shortly after confirmation, he demolished an elite structure within State that had been used to push policies outside the traditional way policies were managed at State:


Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed.

These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.

(Keep in mind, these people are either Foreign Service officers or civil service employees and were not fired. They were already on the books of other organizations and detailed to work in this special group.)

Tillerson has told State that not only will he not fight the cuts proposed in the Trump budget, they had better learn to live with them:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told agency employees in a letter Thursday morning that next year’s budget proposal, marked by deep funding cuts, is an “unmistakable restatement” of the country’s needs and a harbinger of new priorities.

This is not the first time the Post has run with a story on the State Department #resistance movement. Remember when they reported that the collective senior staff of State had walked out rather than work for Trump only to have it revealed that the administration has accepted the resignations they had tendered on January 20 and the walk out was just their last day on the job?


So, there is absolutely no doubt that Tillerson is not Facebook friends with a large portion of State’s bureaucracy. From there the story slips into the absurd:

Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact.

And, significantly, the word “eye” or “eyes” does not appear in the story again.

It’s not just me who thinks this. The Associated Press reporter who covers State says the story was peddled to him, he checked it out, and it is bogus:


If you want to believe the story about Tillerson you, of course, are welcome to do so. But you have to wonder why the AP beat reporter for State took to Twitter to say the story was false. National Review’s Jim Geraghty notes:

Also notice the sources who offer critical quotes in the Post article:
· Representative Eliot L. Engel (D., N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee
· a foreign diplomat posted in Washington
· a senior Senate Democratic aide
· one former State Department employee
· “another official”
· “one department official”
So we’ve got one congressional Democrat, one Senate Democratic aide, one foreign diplomat, one current official, and what is likely two former State employees who worked under Kerry or Clinton. Somehow it is less than stunning that they would be critical of Tillerson.


But this is a story that makes Tillerson, and therefore Trump, look bad. So who cares if it is true or false because is supports a larger agenda of attempting to discredit anything the administration does.


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