President Trump expressed some uncertainty regarding the outcome of CNN’s lawsuit against the White House for suspending the reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials.
Asked if he expects victory, he told the Daily Caller: “I don’t know, we should. … We’ll see how the court rules.”
He pinpointed the issue: “Is it freedom of the press when somebody comes in and starts screaming questions and won’t sit down?”
His comments came the same day the Department of Justice in court argued against CNN’s complaint, which arose after Acosta was belligerent to the president and refused to give up a microphone.
The White House argued that Acosta pushed away a staffer managing the microphone, costing other reporters’ the opportunity to ask questions.
In the DC interview, the president said: “I really think that when you have guys like Acosta, I think they’re bad for the country. … He’s just an average guy who’s a grandstander who’s got the guts to stand up and shout.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed CNN’s claims.
“The White House cannot run an orderly and fair press conference when a reporter acts this way, which is neither appropriate nor professional,” she 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.”
Axios reported Fox News and a number of establishment media outlets were backing CNN’s claims.
“FOX News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential,” the network said. “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.”
Other supporters of CNN’s complaint include the Associated Press, Gannett, Bloomberg, NBC News, the New York Times, the Washington Post and EW Scripps.
See Acosta’s stunt:
It began when Acosta, instead of asking a question, announced he was challenging the president’s characterization of caravan of immigrants approaching the U.S. border as an “invasion.”
“It’s not an invasion,” Acosta insisted.
“Thank you for telling me that,” Trump said. “I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion.”
Acosta then asked, “Did you demonize immigrants?”
Trump explained he wants immigrants to come to America, because its expanding economy needs the workers, but they need to come legally.
Frustrated by Acosta’s criticism of a campaign ad, Trump finally said: “You should let me run the country and you should run CNN. If you did it well your ratings would be much better.”
He moved to another reporter, but Acosta refused to turn over the microphone.
“That’s enough. That’s enough,” Trump said.
When Acosta asked about the Russia investigation, Trump said: “It’s a hoax. Put down the mic.”
Trump continued: “CNN should be ashamed of themselves having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
Acosta tried to interrupt, asserting Trump was being unfair.
“The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible,” Trump said. “The way you treat other people is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people like that.”
Acosta still refused to quit badgering, prompting Trump to say: “Just sit down please. When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are an enemy of the people.”
“This conduct is beyond reprehensible,” said Sean Hannity on his Fox News broadcast. “Imagine anybody doing this to Obama.”
Fox News’ Chris Wallace called Acosta’s behavior “shameful.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Wallace said.
In a response to CNN’s lawsuit, the Justice Department argued Wednesday that CNN has 50 other journalists covering the White House, so there is no punishment for CNN from the White House action.
“No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House,” the administration argued.
The DOJ added: “The president is generally free to open the White House doors to political allies, in the hopes of furthering a particular agenda, and he is equally free to invite in only political foes, in the hopes of convincing them of his position. The First Amendment simply does not regulate these decisions. And the First Amendment does not impose stricter requirements when journalists, as a subset of the public, are granted or denied access to the White House.”
The Washington Times reported that when Acosta refused to give up the microphone, he used “his hand to chop at the [aide’s] elbow as she tried to take control of the microphone.”
According to the Hill, veteran reporter Bob Woodward said: “In the news media there has been an emotional reaction to Trump. … Too many people for Trump or against Trump have become emotionally unhinged about this.”
And Politico commentator Jack Shafer opined that the White House calls on Acosta knowing he will play into their hands and become an “exhibit” for their criticism of “fake news” media.
“(Press Secretary Sarah) Sanders and Trump regularly called on Acosta, counting on the likelihood that he would do that Acosta thing of speechifying and playing microphone hog as he attempts to turn a question into an extended back-and-forth. Sanders and Trump have pretended exasperation at Acosta’s posturing – posturing that hasn’t broken much news, by the way – but not so secretly they happily wallow in his pomposity. By getting Acosta to play the preening, self-aggrandizing, sanctimonious reporter and using him as the punching bag for the White House’s anti-press strategy, Sanders and Trump have created a unique public venue to exhibit their hatred for the ‘fake news’ of CNN,” he wrote.
“Anything that’s good for ratings is good with Trump,” he said.
“I think this guy is just a petty, childish baby,” Limbaugh said of the CNN reporter. “He’s just a first class, A-number-one creep. He is totally and completely unlikable.”
“Jim Acosta has no constitutional right to be admitted to the White House, period,” Limbaugh added. “The White House is not prohibiting CNN from being in there.”