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CNN’s Jim Acosta Banned from – Then Restored to – the White House Briefing Room

by | Dec 27, 2018 | First Amendment, Media Law

According to the White House, CNN’s Jim Acosta was banned from the briefing room for “unacceptable” conduct, including “yanking back” when a staffer tried to grab the microphone.

The White House Correspondents Association didn’t see it that way. They issued a statement calling President Trump’s decision “out of line” and argued it was made “to punish a reporter with whom [he] has a difficult relationship.”

CNN quickly made an emergency request in court to temporarily restore Mr. Acosta’s credentials. In CNN’s argument, it cited a case from the 1970s in which the White House was required to “demonstrate a clear process, and right of appeal, before revoking a reporter’s credentials.”

Federal Judge Timothy J. Kelly sided with the network. According to Kelly, the government couldn’t even tell him who had made the decision to pull Acosta’s access. He also mentioned that they made a false claim against Acosta – specifically, that he had put his hands on an intern during the news conference.

Despite calling their actions “inappropriate,” though, Kelly was quick to say that his ruling was not based on the First Amendment, adding, “I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated here.”

Is this a victory for journalism and transparency?

Maybe. Maybe not.

After the ruling, the White House issued a statement saying it was going to develop “rules and processes…[for] orderly press conferences,” insinuating that reporters who did not follow those rules could be banned.

A professor of media law at George Washington University, William L. Youmans, says that these types of rules could have a “chilling effect” that “[damages] the whole system” and creates “a more tepid press.”

Where do we go from here? We’ll just have to see.


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