Hostility towards the media persists in the USA


On 7th November 2018, the White House suspended the press pass of CNN’s Jim Acosta after the president refused to answer his questions during a news conference. After a few moments of verbal sparring with the reporter, Trump said "that's enough" and a White House aide moved to take the microphone away from the CNN reporter. Acosta refused to hand the microphone to the aide and continued to ask questions. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would later make public video footage of the incident claiming that Acosta had been "placing his hands" on the female intern who took away his microphone. However, reports indicate that the video "appeared to have been edited to make Acosta's attempt to hold on to the microphone appear more aggressive than it was." 

"[Sanders] provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy," CNN said. The White House Correspondent's Association issued a statement saying, “Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable. ...We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action." Journalists assigned to cover the White House apply for passes that allow them daily access to press areas in the West Wing.

A few weeks later, the White House informed Acosta that his badge and access to the White House was "formally restored". However, this came with the publication of a new set of guidelines to govern journalists' behavior during press conferences. For example, the rules imposed a restriction of only one question per reporter and "follow-ups allowed at the discretion of the president or the White House official at the lectern." 

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union, said

“These rules give the White House far too much discretion to avoid real scrutiny. The White House belongs to the public, not the president, and the job of the press is to ask hard questions, not to be polite company.”
Tags: censorship