I awoke yesterday morning to the little blue light flashing on my phone … breaking news from both The Washington Post and the New York Times. Jim Acosta and CNN had won round #1. I did a gleeful cackle. Earlier in the week, after Acosta’s press credentials were revoked by the White House for no real reason other than that Acosta held Trump’s feet to the fire, asked a damn uncomfortable question, CNN filed suit against the White House.
The case, CNN v. Donald J. Trump, has come to symbolize the dysfunctional dynamic between the White House press corps and a president who denigrates its work as “fake news” and refers to it as “the enemy of the people”.
Yesterday morning, Judge Timothy J. Kelly of United States District Court in Washington ruled that the White House had behaved inappropriately in stripping Mr. Acosta of his press badge and ordered that his credentials be restored. It is a small victory and a temporary one, for it is pending the outcome of the trial which could drag on for months, or even years. BUT … the part that gave me cause for glee was that Judge Kelly was appointed by none other than Donald Trump! There may be some Trump appointees who are so grateful to Trump that they will sacrifice justice to please him (think Brett Kavanaugh), but obviously there are some who still believe in the letter of the law and in upholding the Constitution.
Judge Kelly criticized the administration for its false claim that Mr. Acosta had placed his hands on a White House intern during the news conference. The judge called it “likely untrue and at least partly based on evidence of questionable accuracy.” He also said that the White House’s decision-making was “so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me … who made the decision.”
Acosta has had widespread support among the media. More than a dozen news outlets — from the Associated Press to USA Today, The Washington Post and Politico, and even Trump’s own Fox News have filed friend-of-the-court briefs to support CNN and Jim Acosta’s lawsuit against President Trump and several top aides. Fox went further than most other media companies on Wednesday, issuing a statement that said, “Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized.” CNN and Fox have been rivals, sometimes bitterly so, for two decades — but Jim Wallace, president of Fox News, said this case is about the free press.
And you might ask how the White House responded to the news …
“We will end up back in court, and we will win.” – Donald Trump
“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 colleagues from actually being able to do their jobs, as well as White House staff being able to do theirs.” – Sarah Huckabee Boot-Licker Sanders
Sarah’s daddy, Mike Huckabee, a once-respected politician (governor of Arkansas), was asked to fill in for Sean Hannity on the Sean Hannity show on Friday. His guest? None other than his own daughter, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Take a look …
Now, I have no problem with expecting a certain level of civility and ‘decorum’ if you will, but … I’m scratching my head here, for it seems to me that the person who has been most bombastic, most disrespectful and uncivil, most … horrifyingly cruel and vicious … is none other than Donald Trump himself! I have thrice watched the segment of the press conference that cost Jim Acosta his credentials, and have not found a single sentence of disrespect from Acosta. Trump, on the other hand, was crass and rude. So … who should have his access to the White House revoked?
Every president in history has, from time-to-time had difficulties with the press. It is nothing new or unusual. Other presidents, however, have always understood that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the press the right to do their job, to inform the citizens of the U.S. about the actions of their government. Trump forgets … or plain doesn’t care … that we have a right to know. Trump once, long ago, promised to ‘drain the swamp’, and to make government more transparent. Instead, he has brought in a new, especially virulent breed of swamp critter and instead of transparency, he is attempting to put up black-out shutters on the White House. He has threatened to revoke the credentials of any reporter who isn’t nice to him. He and Sarah speak of ‘respect’ and ‘decorum’, but neither of them treat the press or the public with respect or decorum.
The first round in what may be a long and ugly battle has gone to CNN, and I hope they persevere, but there isn’t a doubt Trump will fight to the bitter end, because he believes he has the right to control what the people of this nation can know. Foreign Policy magazine recently published an article titled “10 Ways to Tell if Your President Is a Dictator”. Number one on the list, the very first thing, was “Systematic efforts to intimidate the media”. Let us hope that Judge Kelly continues to rule with the Constitution in mind and does not bend under pressure from Trump & Sarah. We have a right … both moral and legal … to know what our government is doing and why, and our only avenue to gain such knowledge is a free press. We must keep the press free … free from being stifled, free from being harassed, free to tell us what our government is doing. Keep your eye on the ball, folks, for this was only round #1.