Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came out swinging — again — Saturday in yet another attack on a National Public Radio host, indicating she mistook Bangladesh for Ukraine in his map challenge.
But no one is buying it.
Pompeo exploded in a profanity-laced tirade at “All Things Considered” host Mary Louise Kelly after she dared to ask him questions about Ukraine in an interview Friday. He led her to a private office after the interview and yelled at her, using the “F-word and many others,” said Kelly. “He shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself,” which was 10 minutes. Pompeo also asked: “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” Kelly recounted.
He then challenged her to find Ukraine on a blank map, which Kelly did.
On Saturday, Pompeo appeared to indicate that she mistook Bangladesh for Ukraine, which is 3,600 miles away. “It’s worth noting that Bangladesh is not the Ukraine,” he scoffed in his statement. He also claimed that the ugly confrontation was off the record, which NPR denies (and stands by its report), and that Kelly “lied,” was “shameful” and violated the “basic rules of journalism and decency.”
Some observers speculated that it was Pompeo who made the geographical goof in his attempt to call out Kelly — by confusing Bangladesh with Belarus, which borders Ukraine.
The Washington Post blasted Pompeo’s tale as a “blatant gaslighting attempt.”
There is “absolutely no way” Kelly mistook Bangladesh for Ukraine, the Post declared. To mention just a couple of issues, the countries are on different continents, and Bangladesh clearly doesn’t share a border with Russia, so it would be difficult to engage in a border war with that nation, something a journalist would know.
In addition, Kelly is a former national security reporter who has traveled extensively abroad and has a master’s degree in European studies from prestigious Cambridge University. “The mere fact” that Pompeo challenged Kelly to begin with suggests he didn’t “know who he was dealing with,” the Post wrote.
Former White House ethics chief Walter Shaub blasted Pompeo’s statement as possibly the “most breathtakingly childish” ever issued by a secretary of state in “over two centuries.”
Then other Twitter critics piled on.