Rex Tillerson has made it clear that he likes the media about as much or even less than President Donald Trump. While Trump has relied on the press to make him the center of attention, Tillerson relies less on it and as the head of the State Department, which is supposed to provide policy for the U.S, he has been very determined to keep his distance. As Blasting News has reported, Tillerson has gone out of his way to not engage with anyone at the Department and on a flight to Beijing over the last few months, he took with him just one reporter to be interviewed where he revealed just how little he tries to rely on the press.

Blasting News even reported on mass firings of officials left over from the previous administration, weakening the opposition, and the Department's function.

During his trip last week to Russia, it was reported that Russian president Vladimir Putin was upset enough about the United States' attack against the Assad regime that he initially refused to meet with Trump's Secretary of State. What was scheduled and reported on was his meeting with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. But the Washington Post reported that after his meeting with Lavrov, the Secretary ditched reporters before he met with Putin at the Kremlin. Originally, it was the Associated Press (AP) which first tweeted that a Kremlin spokesman was the original source, that they were the ones who said Tillerson was meeting with Putin.

The Post's article is titled: "We are relying on China and Russia to tell us what Trump and Tillerson discussed with their leaders."

The Washington Post said that it was surprising that Putin's team and not Tillerson's was the source. The contrast here is with the fact that according to the Post he, “allowed U.S. journalists to accompany him to the Osobnyak Guest House in Moscow” for the meeting with Lavrov.

What's more, their article said that Russian State Media pushed out a steady stream of information and that the State Department couldn't match it, and that they too had to rely on that information. Prior to the Donald Trump's presidency, the U.S. has largely believed and even now accuse the Russian government of disinformation from its media channels.

An hour and 45 minutes of disinformation

The Post refers to the differences in the perception of reporting by Russian state media and the Associated Press via Twitter where the AP said at 1:45 pm Eastern that “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow and Washington have agreed on the need for the United Nations to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria.” This was clearly during the meeting that was on Tillerson's itinerary. But then at 3:28, the AP reports differently on not only the topic of agreement, but from the view of who is “disputing” the agreement: “The United States is disputing that it has agreed with Russia on the need for a United Nations investigation into a chemical weapons attack in Syria.”

The article says that the stream of disinformation was allowed to go unchecked by the State Department for an hour and 45 minutes.

Prior to becoming Secretary, Tillerson was the CEO of Exxon Mobile who considered his relationship with Putin to be good enough to award Rex Tillerson with a Friendship Award which is considered Russia's highest honor bestowed to foreign citizens. During his confirmation hearing, it was suspected that he would try to help lift sanctions on Russia since he was against them as Exxon CEO because it hurt their bottom line.

Rex Tillerson's elusive behavior

During his hearing, Tillerson was also cornered for not saying whether he believed that Putin had assassinated people who opposed him. In an exchange between he and Sen. Marco Rubio during his hearing, he refused to conclude that Putin was a war criminal and that under his review, he would only side with what was already in the public record after looking at it more thoroughly, which would indicate that negative coverage on the Russian president or the West's decades old conclusion that Putin was a war criminal was simply not enough to go by.

It's assumed that Tillerson might also be taking his cues from the White House. In the mentioned Blasting News article (at the beginning of this one) it referred to the fact that Trump has aides monitoring members of his cabinet throughout the government to keep them in line. In a similar way of controlling the message, the Post also makes the comparison with Chinese state media where the White House had little to nothing to say about the discussion between Trump and Xi other than that it was good. The Chinese government provided a far more descriptive and detailed account and what America has to rely on for transparency.

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