Donations to National Public Radio jumped after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yelled at a reporter for daring to ask him about Ukraine.
“Donations are up!” NPR spokeswoman Isabel Lara emailed Washington Post columnist Eric Wemple.
Several messages with the recent contributions express support for “All Things Considered” co-host Mary Louise Kelly.
Pompeo later did not dispute Kelly’s account of the ugly confrontation — but insisted it was “off the record,” which NPR denied. President Donald Trump later attacked NPR on Twitter and praised Pompeo for his behavior (see the video above).
But it ended up benefiting NPR. Donations from listeners are up across the network’s 1,000 member stations, according to Lara.
“It is always wonderful to hear from listeners who value public radio,” said Lara, who encouraged listeners to continue to donate to their local stations and “support local journalism.”
Lara said the network hasn’t yet tabulated the total increase since donations are spread over so many localities. The NPR station in Austin, Texas, KUT, attributed a surge of 124 donations since Friday to Pompeo’s treatment of Kelly, according to the Post. Over half of the contributions are from first-time donors.
The executive director at WBHM in Alabama called the donation bounce “extraordinary.”
After Pompeo’s tirade, the State Department removed another NPR reporter, Michele Kelemen, from Pompeo’s trip this week to Britain, Ukraine, Belarus and Central Asia, despite strenuous objections from journalists who called the punitive move suppression of free speech.
“We can only conclude that the State Department is retaliating against National Public Radio as a result of this exchange,” said Shaun Tandon, the president of the State Department Correspondents’ Association.
In a statement about Kelly after their face-off, Pompeo indicated she had mistakenly identified Bangladesh as Ukraine in a map challenge Pompeo presented to her. She denied it, and no one else was buying it. Kelly, a longtime national security reporter who has extensively traveled the world, has a master’s from Cambridge University in European Studies. Some suspected it was Pompeo who goofed and intended to say Kelly had mistaken pointed to Ukraine’s neighbor Belarus in his failed attempt to embarrass her.