WASHINGTON – At least 13 media outlets are backing CNN’s decision to sue the Trump administration over its suspension of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials.
Among them are The Associated Press, Bloomberg, The Washington Post and, most surprisingly, Fox News, which announced its intent to file an amicus brief Wednesday.
The lawsuit and defense came after the news outlets accused the White House of “altering” the video of the altercation. In actuality, the video was only slowed down when it was tweeted, as is common practice in media outlets, so viewers can more easily see an incident that happens quickly.
“This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Tuesday. “CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment.”
The move by CNN is just part of the continuing fallout from a recent heated confrontation between Acosta and President Donald Trump.
After a fiery back and forth between the two at a post-election press conference in which Acosta refused to give up the microphone and took a combative tone against the president, the White House suspended the CNN correspondent’s hard pass credentials. A video of the incident shows Acosta forcibly pushing down the arm of the young female intern who was trying to regain control and pass the microphone on to another reporter.
Defending the decision, administration officials accused him of “placing his hands” on a press aide when she tried to retrieve the microphone from him – something Acosta and CNN deny.
CBN News Senior Washington Correspondent Jennifer Wishon weighed in on the matter, stressing the importance of journalists remaining objective and not inserting themselves into their news coverage.
“Reporters have a responsibility not to make the story about them,” she told “Faith Nation” host Jenna Browder. “And I think what we’re seeing is so often reporters are playing the victim with this administration when this is the most accessible administration, I would say, ever in history.”
Nevertheless, Wishon suggested the White House’s decision to yank Acosta’s hard pass may not have been the wisest course of action.
“I think that it was the wrong decision for the White House to revoke his hard pass because it only draws more attention, it seems extreme and it also makes Acosta a hero to his base,” she explained.
She points out that every White House administration plays a role in which members of the press are given access, but she also warned of serious First Amendment implications, saying the latest move could have a chilling effect on the media.
“It’s dangerous, quite frankly,” Wishon said. “Reporters should be able to go to the White House and cover presidents without fear of reprisal.”
Meanwhile, in a Nov. 8 commentary by the journalism organization Poynter, Al Tompkins and Kelly McBride are urging other reporters to use the situation as a learning experience.
“This is in no way a defense of Trump’s suspension of Acosta’s White House press credentials,” they wrote. “Rather, it’s a caution to not hand your critic the stick to beat you with.”
Tompkins and McBride noted how Acosta’s manner of confronting Trump contained the accusation that the president was demonizing the migrant caravan that’s heading towards America’s southern border.
“It is not an invasion,” Acosta told the president.
The incident may have an unintended consequence. Most American are not interested in, and do not watch, White House Press Conferences. Having one go viral in which the press is so visibly hostile to the President with seemingly biased and emotion-based questions, does not add to their credibility. The press was already the least trusted American institution before the Trump administration. Ranking even lower than Congress.
Tompkins and McBride wrote, “Had Acosta phrased his question in a more neutral tone, he likely would have had more information for his audience to digest.”
–Crystal Woodall and Metro Voice