CNN on Monday asked a federal judge for an emergency briefing, after the White House sent a letter to reporter Jim Acosta saying his press pass is slated to once again be suspended after the expiration of a 14-day temporary restraining order that reinstated Acosta’s credential.
Last week, a federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump forced the White House to temporarily reinstate Acosta’s press pass, ruling that the White House violated Acosta’s Fifth Amendment right to due process when it decided to pull Acosta’s credentials following a contentious post-election news conference on Nov. 7.
But the judge did not rule on CNN and Acosta’s other claim that the White House violated the First Amendment when it pulled Acosta’s credentials, and the White House believes that by sending a letter demanding that Acosta make his case for having his press pass reinstated would satisfy the judge’s demand for due process.
The case has sweeping implications for the First Amendment, and whether the White House has broad discretion to block reporters from covering the president.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has changed her story multiple times about why the White House decided to revoke Acosta’s press pass.
First, Sanders used doctored video footage to claim Acosta assaulted a White House intern at the news conference — a bogus claim that even the Trump-appointed judge said was of “questionable accuracy.”
Then, the White House attributed Acosta’s press pass revocation to Acosta being rude.
But given that rudeness is a subjective standard, the risk becomes whether the White House can label any reporter that asks tough questions as rude, and thus revoke their credentials and bar access to the White House.
It’s a slippery slope that experts say threatens press freedom.
“The freedom of the press is a bedrock principle, and our democracy is strengthened when journalists challenge our leaders rather than defer to them,” the ACLU tweeted on Friday after the judge temporarily reinstated Acosta’s press pass.