WASHINGTON: A federal judge on Friday ordered the White House to reinstate the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, whose pass was revoked after a heated exchange with President Trump. According to AFP, Judge Timothy Kelly issued a temporary restraining order that requires the White House to restore Acosta’s access until a full hearing is held, according to the network. CNN and other media groups, including Trump avorite Fox News, backed the lawsuit, which claimed that revoking Acosta’s pass violated constitutional guarantees of a free press.
Kelly, a Trump appointee to the bench, said that his ruling was based on "due process" for the journalist, and that he would hold additional proceedings on the constitutional issues at stake, including the First Amendment free press guarantee.
"I want to be very clear that I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated," he said in the Washington courtroom, adding that he based his decision on a 1977 ruling that required the White House to offer reasons for denial of press credentials and an opportunity to respond. CNN said in a statement: "We are gratified with this result and we look forward to a full resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press."
Acosta said outside the courthouse: "I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week. And I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today. And let’s go back to work." CNN’s lawyer argued in court on Wednesday that the White House violated Acosta’s First Amendment right to free speech in revoking his credentials.
The US Justice Department’s lawyer, James Burnham, countered that Acosta had "disrupted" last week’s news conference. Burnham insisted "there is no First Amendment right to access the White House." Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, angered Trump when he persisted in questioning the president at a November 7 news conference, ignoring demands he yield the microphone. From the podium, Trump called Acosta -- a frequent target of his ire -- a "rude, terrible person."
Media organisations backing CNN included the Associated Press, Bloomberg, First Look Media Works, Gannett, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, NBC News, The New York Times, Politico, Press Freedom Defense Fund, EW Scripps Company, USA Today and The Washington Post.
"Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions," the media groups said in a joint statement ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.
The White House said in its legal filing that it has "broad discretion" to restrict media access to the president, disputing the argument that its actions violate the constitution. "The president and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews, or which journalists they acknowledge at press conferences," said the brief.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said that the White House is “writing up rules and regulations” for reporters after a judge ordered the administration to restore credentials for CNN reporter Jim Acosta. Trump told reporters Friday that “people have to behave.” He added that if journalists “don’t listen to the rules and regulations, we will end up back in court and we will win.” Asked what he meant by rules and regulations, Trump said: “Decorum. You can’t take three questions and four questions. And just stand up and not sit down.” Trump said he wants “total freedom of the press,” but added “you have to act with respect.” The White House said Friday that it would “temporarily reinstate” the credentials that were revoked after Acosta and Trump tangled during a press conference last week.