CNN sues President Trump for banning reporter Jim Acosta from the White House
Donald Trump and the free press have a combative relationship. When mainstream media outlets are critical of his administration, which is often, he dismisses their stories as "fake news." And at rallies, he's used dangerous rhetoric, branding the press "the enemy of the people." After Cesar Sayoc, an avid Trump supporter, mailed 16 pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and Trump critics, one hoped that the feud between the president and the press would simmer down. But nope!
Last week, the president held a press conference, and got into an explosive exchange with CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Acosta challenged Trump's characterization of a migrant caravan as "an invasion," considering that it's hundreds of miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border and consists of Central American refugees who want to request asylum. Trump replied, "I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN...That's enough."
A female White House intern tried to take the microphone back from Acosta, but he wouldn't let go, determined to ask Trump another question. As she reached for the mic, the two appeared to awkwardly bump into each other, and Acosta said, "Pardon me, ma'am." The intern then gave up and waited for Acosta to finish his question, which happened to be about the Russia investigation.
However, that the Russian investigation is Trump's least favorite topic next to vegetables and Hillary Clinton's accomplishments. The president slammed the investigation as a "hoax" and called Acosta a "rude, terrible person." "Put down the mic," Trump commanded, and petulantly stepped away from the podium. Acosta finally surrendered his mic to the White House intern, who clearly has the worst job in D.C.
After the ugly exchange, Acosta tweeted that he was denied entrance to the White House grounds. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the ban, accusing Acosta of "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern." To which Acosta responded, "That is a lie." On Twitter, Sanders claimed his "hard pass" was revoked because "we will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video."
However, the video Sanders attached appears to be doctored, as the same sequence plays multiple times, with no sound. The Washington Post and other outlets analyzed the footage, by laying it over the original video, and found discrepancies. The frames in the 'doctored video' appear to slow down, then speed up, making Acosta's awkward hand gesture seem more aggressive, like a karate chop. Politifact states there is no evidence the video was intentionally distorted, but nevertheless, the action is obfuscated.
What's more, the original video comes from disreputable source: A tweet Paul Joseph Watson, commentator from the far-right tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist website, InfoWars. In fact, one might call that website, and the doctored video, "fake news."
On Tuesday, CNN announced they are suing President Trump for banning Acosta from the White House. The network alleges that his First and Fifth Amendment rights are violated, and lawsuit also includes top White House aides, such as chief of staff John Kelly. CNN is seeking a preliminary injunction so that Acosta's press pass can be immediately reinstated. Then he can get back to work doing what he does best, driving Trump crazy with all those annoying "questions." (So mean! Why not just ask the president compliments? Like, "Why are you so awesome?" That's a fair question.)
"While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone," CNN explained in a statement . "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials."
Oliver Knox, the president of the White House Correspondent's Association, offered his support: "Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday... The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him."
Meanwhile, press secretary Huckabee-Sanders issued her own statement, claiming, "This is just more grandstanding from CNN, and we will vigorously defend against this lawsuit."
Remember when White House press conferences were boring, and not like WWE grudge matches? Ah, the good old days...