After federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ruled that the Trump administration should reinstate CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement calling for “decorum” during White House press briefings.
“Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House,” Sanders said. “In response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter’s hard pass. We will also further develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future.”
“There must be decorum at the White House,” she concluded.
.@PressSec issues statement in response to judge ruling that White House has to reinstate CNN reporter Jim Acosta's hard pass: “Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House." https://t.co/kyAJcV3Zgr pic.twitter.com/2Y7RqW1eY6
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 16, 2018
Sanders’s statement left many crying foul. Many criticized both her interpretation of events and her willingness, in her capacity as press secretary, to overlook or excuse President Donald Trump’s consistent lack of decorum amid his consistent attacks on the press.
“There must be decorum at the White House.” SO rich coming from the people who have stripped it of every last ounce of decorum.
— Adam Mayfield (@adamdm) November 16, 2018
There must be decorum? I guess Trump should never speak at a press conference, since he’s almost always the instigator and the top violator of “decorum”.
— Melen (@Mindcryme) November 16, 2018
Narrator: “But that wasn’t what the court said. Not at all. Not even a little bit.”
— Jeanne Burch (@bulmasan) November 16, 2018
Did she not understand what the judge was saying? Their brand of gaslighting is a detriment to this country. All media should correct this now.
— Michelle (@Michelle9647) November 16, 2018
But the court didn’t rule on 1st amendment. It ruled on violation of CNN’s 5th amendment rights. Sarah’s just trying to save face. This admin doesn’t even TRY to be honest anymore.
— Julia R (@ibejuliagulia) November 16, 2018
New Rules of Decorum Issued by White House
1.) Press must never question lies spoken by The Donald & his representatives regardless of how easily such statements can be proven false and/or harmful. It hurts his feelings and he won’t play with you anymore.
— Ekabecka (@Ekabecka) November 16, 2018
CNN filed its lawsuit on Tuesday, saying that the White House has violated both the network’s and Acosta’s “First Amendment rights of freedom of the press and Fifth Amendment rights to due process.”
This morning, CNN filed a lawsuit against @realDonaldTrump and top aides. The White House has violated CNN and @Acosta's First Amendment rights of freedom of the press and Fifth Amendment rights to due process. Complaint: https://t.co/43oX6L8xA7 pic.twitter.com/RvJ0Cgh6oi
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 13, 2018
The suit lists Donald J. Trump, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications William Shine, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the United States Secret Service, Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, and Secret Service Agent John Doe as defendants.
CNN argues that President Donald Trump is “depriving” CNN of its chief White House correspondent:
“Defendants have deprived Plaintiffs of their right to access the White House grounds by revoking Acosta’s White House credentials. Without those credentials, Acosta cannot access the White House and cannot effectively serve as a White House correspondent, thus depriving Plaintiff CNN of its chief White House correspondent.”
The network also argues that Acosta’s dismissal constitutes a direct violation of the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process:
“Defendants’ decision to revoke Acosta’s press credentials violates the Fifth Amendment right to due process.
“Neither the White House nor the Secret Service has provided Acosta any formal
notice of the reasons for, opportunity to be heard regarding, or opportunity to challenge, the
decision to revoke his hard pass.”
CNN requests that Acosta be reinstated and notes that the revocation of Acosta’s access was “the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta” based on its reporting and “an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view.”
Acosta discovered his press access had been suspended when he walked up to the northwest gate of the White House for a live shot last Wednesday. A Secret Service agent told him: “I was just told to do it.”
Concurrently, Sanders claimed that Acosta had behaved inappropriately at a presidential news conference earlier that day. Sanders accused him of “placing his hands” on an intern who tried to take away his microphone. In reality, Acosta said “Pardon me, ma’am” and asked another question before giving up his microphone.
Here is a video of the interaction for the world to see: pic.twitter.com/us8u5TWzDz
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 8, 2018
Sanders later shared a doctored video promoted by right-wing conspiracy website Infowars purporting to show Acosta placing his hands on the intern. That video was swiftly debunked.
The Justice Department, in a 28-page filing, defended its decision to revoke Acosta’s press access.
No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House,” Justice Department lawyers said.
“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 lawyers continued. “The First Amendment simply does not regulate these decisions.”