State Department Quite Appropriately Updates Website to Reflect Tillerson Departure

Their website has been scrubbed! Tillerson has all but vanished! The sky is falling!

AP (“Tillerson scrubbed from State Dept website“):

Rex Tillerson has all but vanished from the State Department’s website as his unceremonious firing by tweet took effect over the weekend.

The “Secretary of State Tillerson” link on the department’s homepage disappeared overnight Saturday and was replaced with a generic “Secretary of State” tab. When clicked, it leads to a page that informs visitors that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan became “acting Secretary of State on April 1, 2018.” Links that had connected to Tillerson’s speeches, travels and other events now display those of Sullivan. The link to Tillerson’s biography as the 69th secretary of state returns a “We’re sorry, that page can’t be found” message.

President Donald Trump fired Tillerson in a Twitter post on March 13 but his departure did not become official until March 31.

This is a really weird way to frame the story. Regardless of the unceremonious nature of the firing, Tillerson ceased being Secretary of State at midnight and Sullivan became the Acting Secretary. It’s perfectly appropriate—indeed, desirable—that the Department’s website reflect that fact in an expeditious manner.

This administration has deviated from the norms by which our government has traditionally operated in all sorts of ways, many of them rather nefarious. Firing Tillerson by tweet and then announcing to a group of reporters that he was on the toilet when he found out, for example, is not normal. Changing the website to reflect a change in leadership? Perfectly normal.

I fully understand the impulse here. There’s legitimate frustration with the way the administration is governing. But implying nefariousness where it doesn’t exist is akin to falsely crying Wolf. It weakens the credibility of the media outlets doing it and dilutes the impact of reports of legitimate misfeasance. Let’s not do that.

FILED UNDER: Media, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Agreed. Partly attributable to a slow news day I would imagine.

  2. Mister Bluster says:

    The link to Tillerson’s biography as the 69th secretary of state returns a “We’re sorry, that page can’t be found” message.

    If I clicked on a link at the website for Trump’s biography as the 45th President of the United States and got a “We’re sorry, that page can’t be found” message, I would have a party!

  3. lounsbury says:

    Rather silly really, I suppose it if were demosntrably a deviation from past practice…

    Rather more of interest and concern is the attacks on Amazon. Nothing says cheap, 2nd rate Banana republic presidency than the President attacking companies run by critics.

  4. Kathy says:


    But think of the massive inconvenience the Trumpidians will suffer if they choose to boycott Amazon.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    Happy Easter, everyone. (Read the link at Balloon Juice. It’s a hoot.)

  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:
  7. Tyrell says:

    If the State Department is that far behind in terms of their technology, there is a problem.

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    Happy Easter!
    I drove around Civil War era Woodlawn Cemetery in the center of town yesterday like I do every Easter Sunday. Roll down the windows and crank up The Battle Hymn of the Republic hoping someone will pop up out of their grave!
    They say it happened once a long time ago. It might happen again and I want to be there to witness the event!
    Haven’t seen it yet.

  9. Tyrell says:

    @Mister Bluster Go visit Gettysburg. There are many stories of ghosts there.

  10. Mister Bluster says:


    Next year I’ll visit the grave of my best friend John.
    In 1973 when we were both in our twenties he put the wrong end of his .22 rifle in his mouth and blew his head off.
    We buried him on Easter Sunday.
    I can still hear the anguished cries of his girlfriend as she screamed out his name as she was being pried off his coffin at the cemetery.