What the Hell Is Going On At the State Department?

Seriously, folks, WTF is going on with the State Department?

The press is not happy:

D.C. bureau chiefs from major news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the wire services, Fox News and CNN sent a letter to the State Department earlier this week protesting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to ditch reporters on his upcoming trip to Asia.

….”Not only does this situation leave the public narrative of the meetings up to the Chinese foreign ministry as well as Korea’s and Japan’s, but it gives the American people no window whatsoever into the views and actions of the nation’s leaders.”

The American public will get the official narrative, and that’s it. The odds are also slim that Tillerson himself will have anything to say about his meetings. He literally hasn’t spoken with the press in—what? Weeks? Months? Since the day he was confirmed? A few reporters have gotten desperate to find out what’s going on. Here’s NBC’s Andrea Mitchell several days ago trying to get a few words out of Tillerson:

Here she is trying again a few days later:

Tillerson has fired a big chunk of his management staff. He has no deputy. He won’t talk to the press and he won’t take them along on foreign trips. He failed to show up for the annual release of the human rights report. He’s apparently happy to accept a budget that slashes both the State Department and foreign aid by more than a third. He doesn’t get invited to President Trump’s meetings with foreign leaders. Hell, the State Department doesn’t even know they’re happening:

The entire State Department is completely adrift. If it were Trump pulling a stunt like this, we’d chalk it up to some kind of bizarre revenge fantasy festering in his brain. But why is Tillerson doing this? Is he under orders from the White House? Is he too scared to talk to reporters? What the hell is going on here?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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