CNN, throw caution to the wind

Over the past few weeks, those with an interest of a truly free press were keeping a close eye on the battle between the White House and CNN’s White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. After the White House pulled Acosta’s press pass, unheard of prior to this instance, CNN pursued legal action against the Trump administration for violation of the 1st Amendment right to a free press, as well as of the 5th’s amendment guarantee of due process.

Seeking an emergency hearing on the White House’s continual attack on their White House Correspondent, the following week, CNN was able to win a temporary order returning Acosta’s press badge while the legal proceedings moved forward. Decided by Trump appointee U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly, the decision took objection to not only the abruptness to the revoking of privileges, but also the lack of clear justification for doing so without due process. Following this decision, the White House continued their attempts to block Acosta from the White House Press Corps.

On November 19th, nearly two weeks after Acosta first had his credentials revoked, the administration gave in to the pressure of the impending litigation and restored his press pass. As a result, CNN dropped their case against the White House stating:

“Today the White House fully restored Jim Acosta’s press pass. As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary,” the network said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to cover the White House.”

But the reality is that this only the latest in a long strong of attacks that 45 has cast upon the free press. Looking at his twitter alone, since he has assumed the presidency, he has written 70 tweets that vilifies or seeks to discredit CNN, 57 tweets citing the NBC positively only if he agrees with content (otherwise they too are fake news, once even deemed worse than CNN), 70 attacks naming the so-called “failing” New York Times, 132 tweets directly tagging the New York Times where he states their coverage as false, 321 tweets of the same nature tagging CNN directly, and 336 references of “fake news” to coverage he disagrees with or casts him in a negative light.

These numbers are for tweets since January 19th, 2017 alone.

He has no trouble praising the press when cast in a positive light. As a contrast, since becoming president he as posted 500 tweets supporting Fox and Friends for their coverage of the ‘real news,’ and has tagged Fox News 588 times in messages of approval.

The primary reason that the White House lost in the district court hearing on this issue was that of their due process violation, in addition to the First Amendment implications of barring one particular reporter. It was likely that they would lose for the same rationale in the second round of litigation should it have reached a hearing.

As a result, the White House issued new rules for the press corps. outlining what has allowed of reporters, the limitations placed upon them, and opened up their ability to block other reporters in the future by creating a process for their removal. One such rule is not allowing for follow-up questions, requiring journalists to return the microphone after asking their one allotted question.

Thankfully, journalists aren’t the best bunch at following rules, particularly not ones that so thinly veil their intent to dissuade critical or difficult questioning. The White House Correspondents’ Association, along with many journalists and news organizations, rejected the rules and have no intention of following them.

For this reason, I would like to see CNN to throw caution to the wind and fight this administration’s attack on the freedom of the press. They have the resources and capabilities to go up against the Executive, but yet quickly dropped their suit and impassioned remarks after Acosta’s privileges were given back.

It is difficult to accept the same CNN that said the following in a  statement:

“This President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American.”

…is the same that tweeted this and has let go over their spotlight as defenders of the press.

Of course, CNN is likely still dedicated to defending the freedom of the press, but they gave up the fire they had accumulated throughout this entire conflict. One where the White House made specific remarks on how they would like to see the press limited and also where they intended to block Acosta again the moment they could after the first ruling.

I understand that CNN as an organization wants to escape the implications of going toe-to-toe with the institution of the presidency, however when the administration has shown it not only desires, but also intends, to restrict press coverage they disagree with, I believe it’s much bigger than one organization alone.

“This President’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American.”

One thought on “CNN, throw caution to the wind

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  1. I have definitely been following this story closely, and I am glad to see Acosta’s press pass restored. It was certainly interesting to see even Fox News support him. I do not agree with the White House’s new rules as I think they are too broad and could allow for abuse of power, but that will be a conversation for if they invoke them – so probably two days from now.

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