Following the revocation of CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s “hard pass” into the White House after contentious and unacceptable behavior at a news conference, CNN filed suit against the Trump administration claiming violations of the First and Fifth Amendments. A federal judge heard arguments in the case Friday and, though he didn’t address the First Amendment claim, he did rule that the White House needed a sort of “due process” in place to revoke press credentials, and ordered Acosta’s “hard pass” restored.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders discussed the ruling and in an appearance on Fox News on Friday night, where she said that if reporters like Acosta “can’t be adults,” networks like CNN should send other representatives.
Speaking with her father — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was guest hosting for Sean Hannity — Sanders seemed to suggest that Acosta had been behaving like a spoiled child as she explained that the basic minimum standard for reporters going forward should be to act like an adult.
A matter of due process
Asked about what sort of new protocol would be implemented for reporters following the judge’s ruling, Sanders first laid out the basic framework of what the White House expected of members of the media.
“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 the colleagues of the disruptive reporter from actually being able to do their jobs, as well as White House staff being able to do theirs,” Sanders said.
The press secretary revealed that a letter had been sent to CNN that laid out the “missteps” made by Acosta at the post-midterms news conference. She also said that the judge’s ruling actually confirmed that the White House has the right to get rid of disruptive journalists, provided they are afforded due process.
“The judge, I think, was actually very clear that the White House has the ability to say, ‘You can’t come in,'” Sanders said. “Freedom of the press doesn’t mean freedom into the White House… He said there has to be due process, so that’s what we are doing and we’ll see what happens from there.”
If reporters “can’t be adults,” send someone who can
After some discussion about the total number of “hard passes” held by CNN reporters — at least 50, among the most of any other news network — and how it was “laughable” for CNN to try and claim its freedom of the press had been violated, particularly in light of the president’s incredible amount of accessibility to the media, the conversation then turned to opening up future White House briefings to other journalists and outlets not typically seen in the White House press pool.
The interview circled back to when the new protocol for reporters might be implemented — most likely following the Thanksgiving holiday break.
“But I think there are some standard practices,” Sanders said. “The very basic minimum is that if certain reporters — like Jim Acosta — can’t be adults, then CNN needs to send somebody in there who can be.”
Asked about if Acosta’s microphone-hogging behavior had irritated other White House reporters, Sanders replied with a chuckle: “I’m not [going to] speak for any of the other reporters, I’ll leave that to them. But certainly, privately, a number of them have expressed their displeasure with the fact of his grandstanding and the position that he often puts a lot of them in, and it certainly is not something they want to celebrate nor defend.”
Jim Acosta has shown on numerous occasions that he struggles with behaving like an adult while at the White House, making opinionated statements instead of asking questions, hogging the microphone at the expense of other reporters, and throwing temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way.
The White House absolutely should put some ground rules in place that will either compel reporters to behave themselves or be processed out of the press pool so someone else who will behave themselves can be given a chance to cover the White House from the inside.