Jim Acosta, one of CNN’s most astute reporters, has had his press pass, his access to the White House, revoked “until further notice”. Why? Because he was doing his job, he was asking questions. The same as Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was doing when then-candidate for the U.S. Congress, Greg Gianforte, took umbrage and knocked Mr. Jacobs to the ground and proceeded to beat him. A year later, Donald Trump praised Gianforte for his actions, and now Trump has barred Mr. Acosta.
Jim Acosta was doing his job … he was asking Trump questions like why he lied about the migrant caravan, calling it an ‘invasion’, asking why he was demonizing immigrants. He was, in other words, doing precisely what we want our free press to do … holding the president accountable for his words and actions. See for yourself …
As you can see, an intern attempted to take the microphone from Acosta and he did nothing but hold onto the microphone and turn slightly to keep her from taking it from him, for he had not gotten an answer to his question about the highly controversial, racist ad that Trump ran at the end of the mid-term campaign. Trump put an end to Acosta’s questions, calling him a “rude, terrible person”, and the microphone was removed from Acosta’s hand by a White House staffer.
Later in the day, Acosta attempted to return to the White House for a scheduled program with Anderson Cooper, but was stopped outside the White House by Secret Service agents, one of whom blocked his way, and another of whom asked Mr. Acosta to hand over his press credentials, which he did without argument.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied … blatantly lied about the interaction between the intern and Mr. Acosta, saying …
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable.”**
CNN Producer Allie Malloy responded to Sanders via Twitter: “This is a complete lie. The woman grabbed Jim’s arm repeatedly. He never once touched her. In fact at one point @Acosta tells her politely ‘pardon me, mam’ as she’s yanking on his arm.” As you saw in the video, Acosta did not “place his hands” on the intern.
The news conference lasted one hour and 26 minutes, and Acosta was not the only reporter denigrated by Trump. April Ryan, also with CNN, attempted to ask a question about voter suppression concerns, when Trump said to her …
“Sit down please. Sit down. I didn’t call you, I didn’t call you, I didn’t call you.”
Toward the end of the event, Yamiche Alcindor, a correspondent for PBS “NewsHour,” asked Trump about the widely shared view that his rhetoric has emboldened white nationalists. Trump’s response was to tell her that it was a ‘racist question’ and then proceeded to tell her (falsely) that he had the highest poll numbers ever among African-Americans. Watch …
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) issued the following statement in response to Acosta’s press credentials being suspended:
“Journalists may use a range of approaches to carry out their jobs and the WHCA does not police the tone or frequency of the questions its members ask of powerful senior government officials, including the President. Such interactions, however uncomfortable they may appear to be, help define the strength of our national institutions. We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”
Friends, this is the most egregious abuse of power, the most blatant attempt to shut down the free press, that we have seen from Donald Trump to-date. This cannot go unnoticed, cannot be allowed to pass without comment. Please ask yourself this question: What next? The answer should scare you … it scares the hell out of me.
**Here is the full White House statement:
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question. President Trump has given the press more access than any President in history. Contrary to CNN’s assertions, there is no greater demonstration of the President’s support for a free press than the event he held today. Only they would attack the President for not being supportive of a free press in the midst of him taking 68 questions from 35 different reporters over the course of an hour and a half — including several from the reporter in question. The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it is an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration. As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.” — Sarah Sanders