CNN sues over barring of reporter, White House vows vigorous defence

2018-11-14 14:05

A federal judge will hold a hearing on Wednesday on CNN's lawsuit against Donald Trump's administration alleging the White House violated correspondent Jim Acosta's constitutional rights by revoking his press credentials following a heated exchange with the US president.

The White House dismissed CNN's complaint as "grandstanding" and vowed to "vigorously defend" against the lawsuit.

The row on live national television and Acosta's resulting banishment triggered a wave of accusations that Trump is stifling the free press, and marked a sharp escalation in tensions between the president and CNN, a frequent target of his ire.

"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," the news network said in a statement announcing the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in federal court in Washington.

CNN asked for a temporary restraining order, warning that Acosta's credential suspension could set a precedent for future attacks on other outlets.

"If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials," it said.

US District Judge Timothy Kelly ordered the Trump administration to respond by 11:00 (16:00 GMT) on Wednesday and set a hearing for 15:30.

Kelly, a former chief counsel for the US Senate Judiciary Committee, was appointed to the bench by Trump last year.

The White House had suspended Acosta's hard pass after he sparred at a news conference with the president, who demanded that the reporter yield the microphone and called him a "rude, terrible person" when he did not immediately comply.

Acosta pushed back with more questions and a White House intern tried to take the microphone from the CNN journalist – an incident the Trump administration characterised as misconduct against the woman.

'Grandstanding'

Hours later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced Acosta's hard pass had been suspended, a rare if not unprecedented move that she justified by claiming the reporter was inappropriately "placing his hands" on the intern.

Sanders then tweeted a video that she said backed up her narrative of the incident – but analysts said the footage was sped up to make it appear that Acosta struck the intern.

The press secretary on Tuesday dismissed the CNN legal complaint as "grandstanding", vowing that the White House would "vigorously defend against this lawsuit".

She alleged that Acosta "physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern", softening the earlier misconduct accusation and then casting blame on the journalist for his persistent questioning.

"The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolise the floor," the press secretary said in a statement.

"If there is no check on this type of behaviour, it impedes the ability of the President, the White House staff and members of the media to conduct business."

CNN lawyer Ted Boutrous said the White Houses's suspension of the press pass made "clear it was based on the content of the reporting".

"CNN's argument is very straightforward," the lawyer told the US network. "We can't have the White House tossing people out because they don't like what they are saying or what they are reporting."

"That is what happened. That is the First Amendment."

'Unconstitutional'

Both Acosta and CNN are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which targets six defendants: Trump, Sanders, White House chief of staff John Kelly, deputy chief of staff William Shine, the Secret Service and its director along with the agent who took the banned journalist's credentials.

In addition to requesting the return of the journalist's pass, the network is seeking "a declaration that the revocation of Acosta's press was unconstitutional", according to the filing.

The White House Correspondents' Association welcomed CNN's lawsuit, saying "revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events".

"The president of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him," WHCA president Olivier Knox said in a statement.

Trump is no stranger to fights with the press: The president regularly labels unfavourable coverage as "fake news" and has threatened to ban certain media organizations from his events.

The New York-based Knight First Amendment Institute, which sued Trump and his communications team after the president blocked several people on Twitter who were critical of his policies, called CNN's lawsuit "entirely justified".

"It would be terrible for the public, and for our democracy, if reporters questioning the president had to operate under an ever-present threat of this kind of retaliation," said the institute's executive director Jameel Jaffer.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    cnn  |  donald trump  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.