At least 16 major news organizations are backing CNN in its legal fight with the White House over the removal of its reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials.
Right-leaning Fox News is among the outlets banding together with CNN, which named its former co-president Bill Shine, now White House communications director, as one of the respondents in the D.C. District Court, along with other top aides and the Secret Service agent who took away Acosta’s “hard pass.”
“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,” a group of news outlets said in a joint statement by 13 organizations Wednesday. “It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the president and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons. Our news organizations support the fundamental constitutional right to question this president, or any president.”
Among the coalition is the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Gannett, NBC News, the New York Times, Politico, E.W. Scripps, USA Today, and the Washington Post. The outlets intend to file friend-of-the-court briefs supporting CNN and Acosta.
Fox News said in a separate statement it backed CNN’s effort to restore Acosta’s credential. “Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” Fox News President Jay Wallace said. Separately, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, and CBS News each also expressed their support for Acosta and CNN.
“The Wall Street Journal finds it troubling that CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House ‘hard pass’ was revoked. We believe that decision should be reversed and support efforts to restore Mr. Acosta’s full access,” the newspaper said in a statement. “The Journal remains committed to the exercise of free speech rights promised by the First Amendment and to reporters’ ability to question elected officials.”
CBS said it intends to file a friend-of-the-court brief backing CNN.”We do not believe that revoking White House press credentials is an appropriate remedy for a disagreement the White House may have with a particular reporter,” the network said.
CNN and Acosta filed a lawsuit in federal court against top White House officials, including the president, Tuesday after Acosta’s press credentials, which give him access to the White House, were suspended last week. CNN said the move was a violation of the First Amendment.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly, deputy chief of staff Bill Shine, press secretary Sarah Sanders, the U.S. Secret Service and its director, and the unnamed Secret Service agent who took Acosta credential and blocked his access to the White House complex.
CNN is asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order requiring the White House to restore Acosta’s credentials.
In response to CNN’s request, the Justice Department said Trump has “broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists,” adding: “No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House.”
The White House announced last week it had indefinitely suspended Acosta’s hard pass, or credential, after the two tussled during a press conference when Acosta refused to yield the microphone to a White House intern during a press conference with the president. Sanders accused Acosta at the time of “placing his hands” on a White House intern.