CNN is suing the Trump administration over its decision to revoke the press pass of CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
According to a statement by CNN:
CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration this morning in DC District Court. It demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process. While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone. If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.
Among those named in the suit is the unfortunate Secret Service agent who confiscated the pass and was recorded by Acosta doing so.
The White House Correspondents’ Association issued a statement by WHCA President Olivier Knox, chief Washington correspondent of SiriusXM, supporting the move:
The White House Correspondents’ Association strongly supports CNN’s goal of seeing their correspondent regain a US Secret Service security credential that the White House should not have taken away in the first place. Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday. We continue to urge the Administration to reverse course and fully reinstate CNN’s correspondent.
The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.
Actually, the decision to revoke the pass was not arbitrary. Acosta violated long-established norms at White House press conferences by refusing to end his questioning when asked to do so by the president, who in this case had already answered several questions from Acosta.
In 20 years covering the White House, it is not something I have ever seen before. The president was forced to step away from the lectern in order to get Acosta to desist. If such behavior by reporters is permitted, there cannot be properly functioning press conferences, and so the cause of press freedom is harmed.
While I support revoking Acosta’s pass over the incident, I think the White House should return it if he agrees not to pull such a stunt again.
Acosta was seeking just this kind of confrontation by not handing over the microphone. He got it, and with his network’s decision to back him, his notoriety and influence have no doubt been magnified.
This was an undignified effort to confront the president for the sake of having a confrontation and an attempt to convey the personal opinions of the reporter, not a strike for freedom of the press. Acosta’s actions bring disrepute on the press and, in fact, harm the cause of press freedom.