17 March 2017

The US State Department used to be very good at keeping America’s own diplomatic correspondents abreast of foreign policy developments. It gave daily press briefings (also found useful by US embassies for giving pointers to policy) and permitted a ‘press pool’ of American diplomatic correspondents to fly in the same plane as the secretaries of state on their many foreign trips. It has, therefore, been a spectacular public diplomacy own goal for Trump’s State Department, headed if not led by former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, to have not a single press briefing until 7 March and also refuse to permit a press pool to accompany Tillerson on his current trip to Asia. These actions have not only deeply angered the US press corps but also delivered the news management of US foreign policy, such as it is, into the hands of others – not always friendly. Only an administration as stupid as that of Donald Trump could have achieved this.