STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Even Fox News is backing CNN in the network’s fight with the White House over its revocation of press access for correspondent Jim Acosta.
The conservative network, which has developed a very cozy relationship with the Trump White House with a few of its biggest pundits being ardent supporters of the President, intends to file an amicus brief supporting CNN’s Tuesday lawsuit, seeking to reinstate Acosta’s Secret Service pass, which allows the press corps access to the White House for coverage of briefings and events. Jay Wallace, Fox News president, wrote in a statement that such passes “for working White House journalists should never be weaponized.”
“While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people,” Wallace added.
His statement came during a morning that saw essentially all other major news outlets and a number of digital outlets release their own statements supporting CNN. But virtually all have been maligned, either in briefings or indirectly, by Trump as being the “enemy” as part of his near constant agitation of the press and its coverage of his presidency. Fox was always held apart by Trump, who even brought in former network executive Bill Shine to lead communications for the White House a few months ago.
The morning also saw the White House push back against CNN’s lawsuit, which accused the President, along with his key staffers like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and John Kelly, as well as Shine, of violating the First and Fifth amendments of the Constitution, covering rights to freedom of speech and due process, respectively. CNN claimed that Acosta’s access was revoked “arbitrarily, capriciously and otherwise not in accordance with law,” refuting the White House’s initial allegation that Acosta “placed his hands” on an intern at a briefing last week when she tried to take a microphone away that he was speaking into.
But the White House appears to be walking back from that argument, claiming in a response to CNN’s complaint that actually, the President and his staff have “absolute” and “broad” discretion over which reporters receive access to the White House.
“No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House and the President need not survive First Amendment scrutiny whenever he exercises his discretion to deny an individual journalist one of the many hundreds of passes granting on-demand access to the White House complex,” Joseph Hunt, assistant attorney general, wrote on behalf of the White House.
Trump is also pushing for a rejection of CNN’s request that the court immediately reinstate Acosta’s access with a temporary restraining order against the White House’s decision, which Hunt called “extraordinarily intrusive” and equated a restraining order with “a decree ordering the President to grant access to facilities in his official residence and personal offices to a specific journalist he has decided to exclude.”
CNN argued in its complaint that the network and Acosta have been singled out by Trump because of what he’s deemed unfavorable coverage. CNN also noted that Trump has said Acosta’s conduct “was not ‘overly horrible'” and that his credentials were “suspended because he failed to ‘treat the White House with respect.'”
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