Fox News has joined several news outlets and the White House Correspondents’ Association in support of CNN’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump over the revocation of reporter Jim Acosta’s White House press pass.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Fox News president Jay Wallace said, “FOX News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential. We intend to file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court. Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized.”
“While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people,” Wallace added.
The Hill reported that CNN argued in its case filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the press and due process under the law have been violated.
“NBC News, The Associated Press, Bloomberg, Gannett, The New York Times, Politico, USA Today, The Washington Post and other outlets also plan to file briefs supporting CNN’s lawsuit, according to a release from Ballard Spahr LLP, a law firm representing the outlets,” The Hill reported.
The news outlets said in a joint statement released by the firm, “It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the President and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons.”
The Justice Department filed a brief in response to the CNN suit on Wednesday, contending, “No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House.”
“The president and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews, or which journalists they acknowledge at press conferences,” DOJ lawyers said in the court filing.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded to CNN’s lawsuit, saying in a statement, “CNN, who has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment.
“After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions — each of which the President answered — he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions. This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters.
“The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional,” Sanders said. “The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor. 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.”
White House Correspondents’ Association President Oliver Knox said, “Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to a disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday.”
Veteran Washington journalist Chris Wallace said on Fox News last week that Acosta is guilty of being a “showboat” and rude to his fellow reporters by asking repeated questions and refusing to surrender the microphone; however, the Fox News Sunday host went on to argue that the White House should not have pulled his pass.
Wallace noted that CNN stood in solidarity with Fox, when the Obama administration, early in its tenure, tried to freeze out FNC from covering certain events.
Regarding Acosta’s performance last Wednesday, Wallace, who prior to coming to Fox in 2003 worked for both NBC News and ABC News, said, “You know I covered the White House for six years during the Ronald Reagan years, and along with Sam Donaldson, I think we were pretty tough, persistent aggressive reporters, but we never did anything like was Jim Acosta did yesterday. I think he embarrassed himself.”
“He was disrespectful to his colleagues in asking repeated questions, making it harder for them to get in a question,” the Fox News personality said. “Jim Acosta strikes me more as a showboat, rather than he’d like to get answers to questions.”
Dana Perino — a former White House press secretary during the George W. Bush administration — responded, “I know that a lot of Jim Acosta’s colleagues are frustrated with him.” She observed that the Bush White House never dealt with a reporter acting in the manner Acosta has and questioned how his conduct furthers the mission of gathering the news.
Nonetheless, Perino did find pulling his pass “disproportionate” to his offense.
Wallace wondered in light of Acosta’s repeated behavior along these lines since Trump took office, “What do the bosses at CNN see as their mission? In this particular case is it to cover the news or to make a scene?”
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