The Trump White House on Monday established new rules for its press corps to prevent behavior like that exhibited by CNN’s Jim Acosta shortly after the midterm elections.
He belligerently challenged the president’s comments about the immigrant “invasion” heading toward the U.S., then refused to give up the press room microphone so that he could continue challenging and berating the president.
No more, the White House said.
“We have notified Jim Acosta and CNN that his hard pass has been restored,” said a statement from Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “We have also notified him of certain rules that will govern White House press conferences going forward.”
She explained when a journalist is allowed to ask a single question, he or she then “will yield the floor,” although a followup question may be allowed.
“‘Yielding the floor; includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner.”
“May result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass,” the White House said.
“We have created these rules with a degree of regret,” the statement said. “For years, members of the White House press corps have attended countless press events with the president and other officials without engaging in the behavior Mr. Acosta displayed at the November 7, 2018, press conference.
“We would have greatly preferred to continue hosting White House press conferences in reliance on a set of understood professional norms, and we believe the overwhelming majority of journalists covering the White House share that preference. But, given the position taken by CNN, we now feel obligated to replace previously shared practices with explicit rules.”
The basics may be expanded later, too, the White House said.
“We are mindful that a more elaborate and comprehensive set of rules might need to be devised, including, for example, for journalist conduct in the open (non-press room) areas inside and outside the White House and for Air Force One. At this time however, we have decided not to frame such rules in the hope that professional journalistic norms will suffice to regulate conduct in those places. If unprofessional behavior occurs in those settings, or if a court should decide that explicit rules are required to regulate conduct there, we will be forced to reconsider this decision.”
The Washington Times had reported earlier in the day that the White House already had contacted Acosta, and the report suggested his pass might be suspended again, once a judge’s temporary ruling expired.
It was Friday when a federal judge said the White House should restore Acosta’s pass, on the grounds he didn’t get due process before it was removed.
While most of the legacy media outlets supported CNN’s demand that Acosta’s pass be restored, One America News Network sided with the White House.
Trump was “right on point” to call Acosta “rude” during the exchange, the network said.
“While this narcissistic approach may serve plaintiff’s self-interests as entertainers or media figures and the network that profits therefrom, they do not serve the interests of the forum,” OANN said.
WND reported when radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh unloaded on Acosta.
“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.”
When the pass was suspended, Sanders said, “President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”
Sanders said Acosta’s “conduct is absolutely unacceptable.”
“It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question.”
She contended Trump “has given the press more access than any president in history.”
“Contrary to CNN’s assertions, there is no greater demonstration of the president’s support for a free press than the event he held today,” Sanders said. “Only they would attack the president for not supporting a free press in the midst of him taking 68 questions from 35 different reporters over the course of 1.5 hours including several from the reporter in question. The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it’s an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this administration. As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”
As WND reported, at the news conference Acosta began by challenging Trump’s description of the Central American caravan 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. He also again refused to give up the microphone, pushing away an aide who reached out for it.
“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.