If CNN and their chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta think they won their battle against President Donald Trump, they’d better check the fine print.
While Acosta was given back his press credentials, the ruling by Judge Timothy Kelly will actually make it far easier for the White House to revoke the credentials of misbehaving journalists.
As has been well-publicized and documented, the White House revoked the hard pass of Acosta after he refused to give up the microphone during a press conference.
Not only did he refuse to give up the microphone, but he also put his hands on a female intern.
CNN took the White House to court and the administration was forced to give Acosta back his pass.
However, the presiding judge, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, laid out the groundwork for exactly how reporters can be booted from White House pressers.
Kelly said the actions by the White House were not allowed because Costa did not receive due process, which he defined as “procedures whereby an applicant is given notice of the evidence upon which the Secret Service proposed to base its denial, [and] the journalist is afforded an opportunity to rebut or explain this evidence, and the Secret Service issues a final written decision specifying the reasons for its refusal to grant a press pass.”
The judge specifically noted the White House did not formally notify Acosta of the action, nor did they allow him to respond or issue a formal, written decision on the matter.
Kelly suggested that the administration put together a formal set of rules for reporters to follow during press conferences, then stick to them.
In this case, had the White House had a rule in place specifically forbidding aggressive contact with interns or a specific procedure for when the intern approaches for the microphone, they would have been well within their rights to take his press pass.
The administration took the judge’s suggestion to heart and has already published a formal set of rules for reporters during press conferences, including:
A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists;
At the discretion of the president or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor;
“Yielding the floor” includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner;
Failure to abide by any of rules (1) – (3) may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.
Prior to this lawsuit, the White House relied on reporters acting professionally, courteously, and reasonable.
Acosta and some of his counterparts have made it very clear that type of behavior is no longer the norm when sitting in front of the president, so now they will have to live with these rules.
But it may not be very long before we see another reporter booted and these new rules challenged in a court of law.