U.S. media back CNN legal fight against White House

Donald Trump and CCN's Acosta. [PHOTO CREDIT: Axios]
Donald Trump and CCN's Acosta. [PHOTO CREDIT: Axios]

In a show of solidarity, major U.S. media outlets are backing the CNN’s legal fight against the White House for revoking the ‘hard pass’ of Jim Acosta.

CNN said it had asked the court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass to be returned to Acosta and would seek permanent relief as part of the process.

The White House Correspondents Association had also said that it “strongly supports” the suit against the Trump’s administration.

‘Hard pass’ gives holders expanded access to the White House complex.

Acosta’s pass was suspended last week after he sparred with Trump during a press conference.

Fox News, which anchors and shows are generally supportive of President Donald Trump and his policies, has filed a “friend of the court” brief in federal court in support of CNN’s lawsuit.

Fox News President Jay Wallace said Wednesday that the network would file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Wallace said in a statement: “Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponised.

“While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”

CBS News also announced in a statement that it would be filing an amicus brief in support of CNN, saying it supports the White House Correspondents Association and CNN’s legal fight to restore Acosta’s access.

“We do not believe that revoking White House press credentials is an appropriate remedy for a disagreement the White House may have with a particular reporter.

“We intend to file a friend of the court brief in support of CNN’s lawsuit to defend its constitutional rights,” CBS News said in the statement.

A group of other news organisations, including Fox News, NBC News, the New York Times, the Washington Post and two wire services – AP and Bloomberg – also said they would file a joint amicus brief in support of CNN.

The law firm, Ballard Spahr, issued a statement on behalf of The Associated Press; Bloomberg L.P.; First Look Media Works, Inc.; FOX News; Gannett; National Press Club Journalism Institute; NBC News; The New York Times Co.; POLITICO; Press Freedom Defense Fund; E.W. Scripps Company; USA TODAY NETWORK; and The Washington Post.

“Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy, or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions.

“It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the President and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons,” the statement read.

The White House has filed its memo of opposition against CNN and Acosta’s lawsuit ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, arguing that the First Amendment did not guarantee access to the White House.

In a 23-page memo, the White House argued: “The president and his staff have absolute discretion over which journalists they grant interviews to, as well as over which journalists they acknowledge at press events.

“That broad discretion necessarily includes discretion over which journalists receive on-demand access to the White House grounds and special access during White House travel for the purpose of asking questions of the President or his staff.

“No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House and the [resident need not survive First Amendment scrutiny whenever he exercises his discretion to deny an individual journalist one of the many hundreds of passes granting on-demand access to the White House complex”.

The White House memo also claimed that Acosta was given sufficient notice about the suspension of his credentials, adding Acosta “received notice of the reasons for his pass’s revocation the night it happened and again the next day”.

The White House had said last week that Acosta’s ‘hard pass’ was suspended because he refused to give up a microphone to a White House intern who tried to take it away from him during the press conference.

The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders accused Acosta of placing his hands on the intern and distributed a video of the incident.

Sanders called the lawsuit “just more grandstanding from CNN”.

Trump told the Daily Caller on Wednesday that “Jim Acosta is just somebody who gets up and grandstands, he doesn’t even know what he’s asking you half of the time”.

The president added that he thought reporters like Acosta were “bad for the country”. (NAN)

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