From Moon of Alabama:
The White House Spat With Jim Acosta Is Not A First Amendment Issue, Julian Assange’s Indictment Is One
U.S. media support a questionable First Amendment case when one of the network reporters was rebuked by the White House. They are quiet on another case where the danger to the rights of a free press is much more serious.
On November 9, during a White House press conference with U.S. president Donald Trump, CNN reporter Jim Acosta staged a confrontation. His ‘questions’ to Trump during the press conference amounted to political statements and personal accusations. The situation escalated when Acosta insisted to make more statement while the president invited other reporters to ask their questions.
The first Acosta statement/question was about the so called caravan of immigrants that traveled through Mexico to the U.S. border. Trump had used it as a boogeyman during the midterm election campaign and had called it an “invasion”. Trump answered the question by explaining that he wants immigrants to go through the legal immigration process and to not pass the border illegally. Acosta interrupted Trump’s answer and asked a follow up, again in an accusing tone. Trump also answered that second question.
Acosta made another attempt to involve Trump into a political discussion about the issue. The president rejected that by telling Acosta to do his job as reporter while he, Trump, would do his as president. He moved on to the next reporter.
A White House aid got up to fetch the mobile microphone Acosta held in his hand. He more or less pushed her away and tried to ask another question, this time on the “Russian investigation”. Trump told him “That’s enough. That’s enough.” Acosta continued to ask. Trump relented and answered the question by saying that the whole “Russia investigation” is a hoax. Acosta tried another question, number five, asking if Trump was worried about indictments in the case. Trump turned away.
Acosta finally gave up the microphone. Trump then told Acosta that he is a “rude, terrible person” and that CNN “should be ashamed” to have him as a reporter.
Trump turned to another reporter to continued the press conference. While the next reporter asked his question Acosta got up again, interrupted the other reporter and again tried to get Trump into a discussion. He failed.
A video of the full exchange is here.
When I watched that segment on that day I found the behavior of Acosta obnoxious and primitive. He, and a few other reporters, did not ask questions to elicit answers, but tried to provoke Trump by making partisan political statements which were only superficially framed as questions. Acosta’s behavior was impolite and disrespectful not only towards Trump but also to fellow reporters.
Later that day the White House revoked Acosta’s White House ‘hard pass’ which gives the holder expanded access to the White House. CNN went to court claiming that the revocation violated Acosta’s first and fifth amendment rights.
The First Amendment is about free speech. It has nothing to do with a ‘right’ to enter the White House. Neither does the right to free speech include a ‘right’ to get invited to press conferences. The Fifth Amendment is, among other things, about due process.