The president of the United States is used to throwing on-camera tantrums, and the people of the nation are used to seeing him do just that. But no one was prepared for the president to claim that an accredited reporter for CNN physically assaulted a female White House staffer after refusing to let go of the mic he was using to question the president.
In the video, a very calm and even polite Acosta said “pardon me, ma’am” to the woman in question as she struggled to yank the mic from his hand. Trump grew furious, going off on Acosta once he no longer had a way to speak out.
Immediately after, the White House announced that it was stripping Jim Acosta of his press pass so he could no longer be the White House correspondent for CNN. The network backed Acosta vehemently, and now, they have filed a lawsuit against the White House for violating Acosta’s First Amendment rights.
CNN said this Tuesday:
“It [the lawsuit] demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. 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. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”
The Washington Post reports that:
“Disputes have occasionally flared over which members of the press corps are qualified to receive a “hard pass.” But Trump’s action appears to be unprecedented; there’s no record of a president revoking such a pass from a reporter because he didn’t like the questions the reporter asked.”
First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said this about the network’s chances of winning the suit:
“I think it’s a really strong lawsuit. I think [CNN] should sue, and if it’s not about Acosta, this is going to happen again…So whether it’s CNN suing or the next company suing, someone’s going to have to bring a lawsuit, and whoever does is going to win”
Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University said that what the White House did was not only unprecedented, but unlawful:
“The government cannot exclude reporters from [the White House] because of their views. Once the government created a general right of access it cannot selectively withdraw it based on viewpoint. Viewpoint is not a criterion that establishes a media organization’s right to be at a news briefing.”