Following a confrontational outburst at a post-election news conference, the White House revoked the “hard pass” of CNN Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. CNN fought back with a lawsuit, and on Friday a judge ordered the White House to restore Acosta’s pass and develop a sort of “due process” for revoking journalist credentials in the future.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders addressed what would happen going forward in an interview Friday night with her father, Mike Huckabee, who was guest hosting for Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Sanders warned that “if certain reporters like Jim Acosta can’t be adults, then CNN needs to send somebody in there who can be.”
“Due process” for White House reporters
“We support a free press. But freedom of the press doesn’t mean freedom to be disruptive, freedom to be rude, freedom to interrupt and impede the ability of the colleagues of the disruptive reporter from actually being able to do their jobs, as well as White House staff from being able to do theirs,” Sanders said.
She revealed that the White House had discussed “missteps” that had occurred in a letter to CNN about the Acosta situation, and noted that they expected to receive a response from the network.
“The judge actually made very clear that the White House has the ability to say ‘You can’t come in,’ freedom of the press doesn’t mean freedom to the White House, and he said there has to be due process, so that’s what we’re doing and we’ll see what happens from there,” said Sanders.
Sanders further noted that CNN actually boasts 50 reporters who hold a “hard pass” — which allows pre-cleared daily entry into the White House — the most of any news network, a fact which made the network’s argument their First Amendment rights had been violated, “frankly, laughable.”
“Displeasure” with Acosta’s “grandstanding”
Sanders proceeded to point out that President Donald Trump has been the “most accessible” president in terms of the media in modern times, and said, “He loves to engage with the press … because he loves to speak directly to the American people.”
“We never want to prohibit that from taking place, but at the same time, those individuals can’t be disruptive, they can’t impede the ability of any other individual to do their job,” she continued.
Asked about when a new protocol might be implemented, Sanders demurred, but said, “I think there are some standard practices. At the very basic minimum is that if certain reporters — like Jim Acosta — can’t be adults, then CNN needs to send somebody in there who can be.”
Huckabee asked how other reporters feel when Acosta asks three questions compared to their one, to which Sanders replied, “I’m not gonna speak for any of the other reporters, I’ll leave that to them, but certainly privately a number of them have expressed their displeasure with the fact of his grandstanding and the position that he often puts a lot of them in, and it’s certainly not something they want to celebrate or defend.”
The White House has grown exceedingly tired of Jim Acosta’s antics … as have most other White House reporters, though they are more circumspect in admitting as much.
Acosta will get his “hard pass” back and be allowed to rejoin White House news conferences again, but he has been placed on notice that a new protocol will be implemented and reporters who can’t behave themselves will find themselves barred from entry, next time without any sort of legal recourse.