Secretary of State — and former ExxonMobil CEO — Rex Tillerson has been keeping a low profile since becoming America’s chief diplomat. But Tillerson’s decision to take just one journalist — a hand-picked woman from the conservative-leaning Independent Journal Review — along on his first trip to the Far East (South Korea, Japan, and China) strikes many as representing oligarch-style secrecy and news management instead of the traditional American-style transparency at the State Department.
So who is Erin McPike, Tillerson’s choice journalist and lone reporter for American? McPike’s LinkedIn profile says she worked at CNN, National Journal and RealClearPolitics before joining the Independent Journal Review in 2017. It also shows a gap in employment in 2016, after leaving CNN in 2015. McPike reportedly attended American University in Washington, DC. (The IJR’s own LinkedIn page says the media outlet, founded in 2012, has 51-200 employees and claims to offer its more than 35 million monthly visitors more than an “inside the beltway” view of politics.) McPike, of course, is presently as “inside the beltway” as one can get — she’s on the Secretary of State’s plane. This access should help her break into the “Top Authors” category at IJR, which lists seven writers and doesn’t include McPike. (Jason Howerton tops the list.) McPike’s IJR profile says welcomes emails at firstname.lastname@example.org. McPike is represented by Brian Jacobs at the talent agency Headline Media Management. According to her profile there, while at CNN McPike reported “specially for The Lead with Jake Tapper” — one of the journalists most vocal about Tillerson’s breach of traditional protocol.
Not bringing press on a trip like that is unusual & insulting to any American who is looking for anything but a state-run version of events
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 9, 2017
Even our smiles look like they get a little windy when waiting for a South Lawn Departure. pic.twitter.com/seDjXE5g0R
— Erin McPike (@ErinMcPike) August 30, 2014