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Political Editors / November 16, 2018

Jim Acosta and the First Amendment

CNN filed suit, and a judge restored Acosta’s revoked press pass earlier today.

In President Donald Trump’s ongoing feud with CNN, the administration defended its decision to revoke “reporter” Jim Acosta’s press credentials after Acosta’s accosting last week. CNN has filed suit to restore his access, and U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly temporarily restored Acosta’s pass this morning. According to The Washington Post, “In his decision, Kelly ruled that Acosta’s First Amendment rights overruled the White House’s right to have orderly press conferences.” With Acosta there, orderly press conferences may be a thing of the past.

Administration officials noted that the cable news network has more than 50 other journalists credentialed to cover the White House, adding that “no journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House.” Lawyers for the White House further argued, “The president is generally free to open the White House doors to political allies, in the hopes of furthering a particular agenda, and he is equally free to invite in only political foes, in the hopes of convincing them of his position. The First Amendment simply does not regulate these decisions. And the First Amendment does not impose stricter requirements when journalists, as a subset of the public, are granted or denied access to the White House.”

Once again, Acosta and CNN have become the news rather than reporting the news. This is not how journalism is supposed to be done, and many Americans know it. A recent poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found that 48% of voters found the mainstream media’s coverage of Trump to be “unfair, biased and disrespectful.” Jim McLaughlin noted, “Earlier in the year we found 77 percent can’t believe everything in the media. Only 14 percent did. So the partisan division has really hurt the media’s credibility and they may not recover from it without a major change in tone and substance.” He added, “The average American is much smarter than the media elites. … The American people have figured out that all too often what is supposed to be news, is just simply liberal opinion masquerading as so called journalism. President Trump continues to expose the bias in the media on a daily basis.”

A separate poll from YouGov found that 59% sided with the White House in its decision to revoke Acosta’s press pass. Even former CNN host Larry King criticized his old employer for not being a “news network.” He showed little love for Acosta, either: “To me, you know what this was? Eighth grade. It was the playground, ‘That’s my ball and I wanna play today on the team.’ It was childish. … It isn’t about you [Acosta], it’s about him [Trump].”

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