Well, there’s no Christmas party for the White House press corps this year. President Trump has nixed it.
Every year, the press is invited to feast on White House delicacies, have cocktails, and then meet and get a photo with the first lady and the president. I’ve been to many of these parties – although the Obamas stopped inviting me because they didn’t like me, and I didn’t get an invite last year, probably by mistake – and I can assure you they are wonderful affairs. The lamb chops and the shrimp cocktail are the best you’ve ever tasted.
But who can blame Trump? The press corps invited a comedian who hates Trump to perform at its annual dinner last spring. And the coverage is relentlessly negative.
Why invite a group of people who hate you and who are biased in their work when they claim to be neutral to come party with you?
There’s plenty of grumbling about this, I’ve been told by others who are more connected to the other White House reporters. I’m sure you are all broken up about it and grieving for them . . .
Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, was selected by Sports Illustrated to present an award honoring the first gymnast to publicly accuse former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of abuse.
Ford recorded a video announcing Rachael Denhollander, a lawyer and former gymnast, as the recipient of Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year award. The video marked Ford’s first public statement since she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation against Kavanaugh in September.
If you listen to the media whine, you’d think President Trump was over at the National Archives snipping the First Amendment out of the Constitution so that he could flush it down a toilet back at the White House.
And yet, and yet. Why do the navel-gazing media never report that this is by far the most accessible president in modern history? He even exceeds Bill Clinton, whom I covered, and who was constantly in search of attention, particularly in the waning days of his presidency when he knew it would soon be over.
Not only did CNN’s Jim Acosta, who was correctly thrown out of the White House for not being able to obey simple rules of decorum, permitted to ask three questions at Tuesday’s briefing. But both the Washington Post, which is relentlessly biased against Trump in its coverage of the president and Politico, which is just a little less relentlessly biased in is its coverage of the president, got exclusive interviews with Trump.
Meantime, he pretty much never steps outside the door of the White House without answering reporters’ questions. Never seen anything like it. Not to mention a lengthy press conference earlier this month with dozens of questions.
First Amendment seems pretty safe, despite all the bitching and moaning.
President Trump Friday said it is responding to the judge’s ruling temporarily granting CNN’s Jim Acosta his pass back by saying the White House is writing up new rules for conduct and he vowed to continue making the case in court that Acosta’s pass should be revoked.
Trump said, according to the White House pool report:
People have to behave. We’re writing up rules and regulations. I think you were treated very unfairly. Both of you. Because you had somebody interrupting you. With the rules and regulations, we will end up back in court and we will win.
Decorum. You can’t take three questions and four questions . . . You can’t stand up and not sit down . . . We want total freedom of the press. It’s more important to me than anybody would believe. But you have to act with respect when you’re at the White house, and when I see the way some of my people get treated at press conferences, it’s terrible. So we’re setting up a certain standard, which is what the court is requesting . . . we always have the option of just leaving if we feel taht things aren’t being treated properly, if people aren’t being treated properly …and the other media and press in the room won’t be happy . . . I have instructed my people, you have the right to just leave when you are not being treated properly.
So, this is Acosta’s contribution to freedom of the press. Now, because he and others at the White House can’t behave in a civilized manner, the president is going to write “rules.” This will end up restricting press freedom to some – hopefully – limited extent. And once there are rules, future presidents, particularly leftists who unlike Trump actually do have totalitarian tendencies, will no doubt expand the rules and target organizations they don’t like, or the press as a whole.
I don’t know whether there is a formal code of conduct at the White House, but everyone used to know that you could be aggressive without being completely disrespectful and disorderly. Acosta crossed that line, which should have been evident before lawsuits were launched. Now the rules of behavior every kid learns in third grade will be codified, along with other “rules” that may restrict press freedom.
Legendary reporter Bob Woodward says CNN’s lawsuit to reinstate Jim Acosta’s press pass is a bad idea, suggesting it only helps Trump, according to remarks reported by NBC News media reporter Dylan Byers on his Twitter feed.
“This is a negative … Trump is sitting around saying, ‘This is great,’” Woodward said at the Global Financial Leadership Conference in Florida. The lawsuit amounts to taking Trump’s bait, Woodward said, and the “remedy” isn’t a lawsuit, but “more serious reporting about what he’s doing.”
I have to think Woodward is not just opposed to the lawsuit because it helps Trump, but that rather he is appalled by the kind of journalism Acosta does. He also noted: “In the news media there has been an emotional reaction to Trump … too many people for Trump or against Trump have become emotionally unhinged about this.”
To someone like Woodward, an old school reporter who methodically assembles scoops and important news stories and books, the pure angry editorializing of the press when it comes to Trump is an anathema. The press has discredited itself by abandoning not just objectivity – or at least, the attempt at objectivity – but to have efffectively throw itself in with the Resistance instead of trying to check their emotions and stick to the facts.
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.
But some number of irregularities do appear to have occurred.
On Sunday, one candidate filed an affidavit in court from a fired poll worker who claimed to have witnessed elections employees filling out ballots days before the 2016 election. It was unclear whether what the worker witnessed was wrongdoing, or a routine process in which staffers fill out fresh blank ballots to replace those that come in too bent, torn or otherwise defective to be read by machine. The affidavit was intended to prove that similar problems could be at work in the current election.
In Broward County, 22 rejected ballots were mixed in with about 180 valid ones and were counted. In Palm Beach County, damaged ballots that were duplicated by hand, as required under state law, were handled without independent observers having a good vantage point to witness the process. Staff members had made rulings themselves on questionable ballots that were supposed to be judged by a three-person panel.
In Miami-Dade County, 266 mailed ballots passing through a sorting facility where bombs targeting Democratic politicians had been found were apparently delayed — they arrived on Saturday, after the deadline, and were not counted.
A number of absentee ballots that arrived on time were not all counted by election night — which is legal. But a candidate who saw his lead for agriculture commissioner diminish overnight filed a motion in court asking a judge to order the county elections supervisor not to count mail-in ballots that arrived late. There was no indication that the supervisor had been doing so.
Yes, some “irregularities” appear to have occurred. These are the ones we know about Maybe the Democratic House will investigate . . .
Republicans must be on guard that Democrats don’t continue their long tradition of election stealing. As in JFK and LBJ – honored members of the Democratic election-stealing hall of fame.
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