On Tuesday, CNN, the cable outlet once dubbed the “least-trusted” name in network news, along with grandstanding propagandist Jim Acosta, filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, the president’s chief of staff John Kelly and the U.S. Secret Service, among others, ABC News and others reported. Sanders responded sharply, slamming Acosta as someone who “attempts to monopolize the floor.”
According to ABC News:
“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process,” CNN said in a press release.
In the complaint, filed in D.C. District Court, lawyers for CNN argued the “revocation of Acosta’s credentials is only the beginning.”
“This severe and unprecedented punishment is the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting—an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view,” CNN’s lawyers wrote in the court documents.
Sanders called the lawsuit “more grandstanding from CNN” and promised to “vigorously defend” the White House against the lawsuit.
ABC News added:
CNN has nearly 50 additional “hard pass” holders, a common name for White House press credentials, Sanders said, and Acosta is “no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment,” which Sanders argued is not served when one reporter “attempts to monopolize the floor.”
“The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional,” Sanders continued. “If there is no check on this type of behavior it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff, and members of the media to conduct business.”
Sanders’ comments Tuesday differ from her explanation last week of Acosta’s press pass suspension. In her first statement on the evening of the press conference, Sanders led off by denouncing Acosta for “placing his hands on a young women just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” an assertion that CNN immediately denied.
Here’s video of the incident:
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Writing at the Daily Wire, Emily Zanotti said that CNN “is relying on a single case to support their allegations, Sherrill v. Knight, which was decided more than four decades ago. CNN’s lawyer explained the theory behind the suit on Twitter.”
Sherrill v. Knight (D.C. Cir 1977): “White House press facilities having been made publicly available . . ., the protection afforded newsgathering under the first amendment . . . requires that this access not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons.” https://t.co/nuMmTXaTbT
— Ted Boutrous (@BoutrousTed) November 8, 2018
Whether CNN succeeds in their lawsuit relies heavily on the “compelling reasons” argument. CNN will likely argue that the White House’s stated rationale for revoking Acosta’s press pass — that he assaulted a White House aide — is a cover for viewpoint discrimination, and that the White House’s rules for issuing and maintaining permanent press passes are vague.
Sanders, for whatever reason, did not mention Acosta’s physical contact with the intern:
WH changes its explanation – no more mention of placing hands on an intern https://t.co/Doij1en327
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 13, 2018
- Video: Idiots on The View claim White House intern assaulted CNN propagandist Jim Acosta
- CNN defends propagandist Jim Acosta, accuses Sarah Sanders of posting doctored video of assault
- Finally: White House Pulls Jim Acosta’s Credentials
- Trump shreds grandstanding CNN propagandist Jim Acosta: ‘You are a rude, terrible person’ — Video
- CNN propagandist Jim Acosta responds to mild teasing from former White House official: ‘F**k you’
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