State Dept.: Tillerson Doesn’t ‘Show Up in Front of Every Television Camera,’ As Others Have Done

By Patrick Goodenough | October 5, 2017 | 4:20am EDT
Secretary of State John Kerry at the U.N. climate conference in Paris, France, in December 2015. (Photo: State Department)

( – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cares more about promoting America’s foreign policy goals than about the television cameras, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday.

In giving a spirited defense of her boss in the face of press reports claiming Tillerson considered resigning over the summer, Nauert suggested that some predecessors had not been so averse to media coverage.

“He’s not the kind of person who’s going to just show up in front of every television camera,” she told reporters. “Some have done that in the past. The secretary doesn’t find that necessarily to be effective.”

According to archived State Department records, in his last full year in the post Tillerson’s immediate predecessor, John Kerry, held 35 press availabilities, mostly with visiting or hosting foreign counterparts, and gave 45 interviews with U.S. and foreign media outlets, most of them television stations.

For 2015 the department archives record 11 Kerry press availabilities and 22 media interviews; and for 2014, 19 press availabilities and 31 interviews.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his way to a meeting on the Iran nuclear deal, at U.N. headquarters on September 20, 2017. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

In Tillerson’s ten months in the job, the State Department lists 24 press availabilities and 10 media interviews.

As Tillerson himself did earlier in the day, Nauert denied reports that the secretary mulled resigning last summer over differences with President Trump.

“And for those who want him to do so, go ahead and keep pushing, because that will only strengthen his resolve,” she stated.

In defending Tillerson, Nauert repeatedly referred to his low-key style, which some media representatives have found frustrating.

“He is not a politician who seeks the spotlight, and many in foreign policy and media circles simply don’t understand that,” she said. “They think, why would somebody not want to be in front of television cameras all the time? That is not who this person is.”

“Secretary Tillerson came to Washington to do a job. He came to Washington to serve his country. He came to Washington to serve the Trump administration. He came here to advance U.S. foreign policy goals … [and] to keep Americans safe.”

“He’s not someone who’s ever going to love being in front of the television cameras,” Nauert said later. “He is not a politician. He isn’t. And some people just don’t seem to get that just yet.”

“I’m okay with that,” she said. “I’m okay standing behind a man, working for a man who wants to keep his nose to the grindstone, wants to promote U.S. foreign policy goals, and cares first and foremost about that and less about television cameras.”


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