Well, the decision is now in the hands of a U.S. federal judge. Is it permissible for White House officials to identify a showboating journalist as a self-serving clown and ban him from the premises? Or is the press guaranteed, by constitutional amendment, the right to say and do whatever they want to disrupt the people’s business?
This is the decision before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly. Does the First Amendment protect Jim Acosta’s desire to turn himself into a limelight-hogging star at the expense of a functioning press corps? Or can the president and his press secretary put in place some reasonable limits on how journalists should behave themselves at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
CNN’s position, the lawsuit they filed against Trump, Sarah Sanders, and others, is that Trump unlawfully inhibited Acosta’s First Amendment rights, banning him from the White House grounds merely because he did not appreciate Acosta’s oppositional attitude. In other words, Trump doesn’t like him because he’s a liberal who pushes him with tough questions. If Judge Kelly buys into this theory of the incident, he will have little choice but to side with the network and their star buffoon.
Weighing heavily on the side of the White House, however, are several factors.
One, that entire room is filled with adversarial journalists, many of whom are not shy about letting their opposition to Trump and the entire Republican Party be known to viewers. Never before in history has the collective media’s left-wing bias been so out in the open as it is today. And yet, on the day in question, President Trump stood there and took question after question from a hostile, hateful crowd of reporters. He only banned one of them.
Two, Acosta’s antics are well-established, and they have little or nothing to do with his political views. Acosta has turned his White House access into a license to turn every press briefing into the Acosta Show. These antics were on full display last Wednesday, and it should be clear to any reasonable observer that Acosta overstepped his bounds. Considerably.
Three, CNN alone has more than 50 other employees with “hard pass” access to the White House. None of the others were suspended. Only Acosta. Only the Clown.
It cannot be that the First Amendment guarantees Jim Acosta alone the right to go into these press conferences, disrupt the proceedings, and prevent the White House from conducting an orderly public event. It makes no sense, and such a ruling would only embolden reporters who would like to follow in Acosta’s oversized footsteps. It would, we imagine, be the end of the regular press briefing as we know it.
But we’ve seen many bizarre court rulings over the past two years, and most of them have involved the president in one form or fashion. We won’t be too surprised if this turns out to be another one.