CBS White House Correspondent: The 'Best Journalists' Don't Make Themselves Part of the Story


CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett weighed in this week on the current legal battle between the Trump administration and the news media.

As The Hill reported, Garrett appeared on the Larry O’Connor Show prior to a federal judge’s order that the White House must temporarily reinstate CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass.

The administration took away Acosta’s credentials following a news conference earlier this month, sparking a lawsuit claiming a violation of Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.

Garrett lamented the situation as unprecedented and troubling on multiple levels.

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“We’ve never had a scenario like this, where the White House has revoked a hard pass,” he said.

The reporter went on to explain the importance of a free press dedicated to asking relevant questions of the White House. He also touched on some of the points of etiquette and respect that help the process play out as smoothly as possible.

Speaking in general terms, he used a personal experience to describe how he believes a correspondent should interact with the president.

“I will say on my behalf, the previous press conference we had with President Trump in the Rose Garden, the president looked at me — I thought he called on me,” Garrett said. “I stood up, the White House aide handed me the microphone, I began to speak to the president of the United States of America.”

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When Trump informed Garrett that he had intended to call on another reporter, however, the CBS correspondent stopped talking and handed the mic back.

“Some of my colleagues might say, ‘What did you do that for? You had the microphone. You had a voice. You could speak,'” Garrett said. “The president of the United States said, ‘Not you.’ To my way of thinking, that’s enough.”

Garrett made it clear that he does not agree with those who would call his behavior “too deferential” in relinquishing the microphone.

“I deferred hoping he might call on me again,” Garrett said. “He didn’t.”

He went on to describe the separation he believes should exist between reporters and the stories they cover.

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“I do my level best to not put myself or make myself part of the story, and I think the best journalists operate that way,” Garrett said.

As for disputes between the White House and media, he does not believe the judicial system is the best place for them to be resolved.

“All of these questions are best resolved through the political channels that our country has long developed and long relied upon,” he said.

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment