Donald Trump bans CNN reporter from setting foot in the White House after interview turns ugly
Yesterday, after a particularly rowdy news conference at the White House, President Donald Trump made the decision to ban CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, from accessing future press talks.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders posted about the reasoning behind the president's decision on Twitter yesterday evening, claiming that Acosta's behaviour in a conference earlier that day was "absolutely unacceptable", as he supposedly "[placed] his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern".
Video footage of the supposed incident suggests that this is not true, however.
"President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern," Sanders wrote on social media.
"This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question. President Trump has given the press more access than any President in history.
"Contrary to CNN’s assertions there is no greater demonstration of the President’s support for a free press than the event he held today ... The fact that CNN is proud of the way their employee behaved is not only disgusting, it‘s an example of their outrageous disregard for everyone, including young women, who work in this Administration."
Acosta responded to the allegations by posting his own tweet which simply said: "This is a lie." A video demonstrates this, as Acosta did not - at any point - place his hands on the woman.
CNN also posted a statement about the so-called "unacceptable conduct" and Trump's reaction to it, saying that "it was done in retaliation for [Acosta's] challenging questions at today's press conference."
"Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied," they continued. "She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support."
Other journalists and reporters have expressed their support for the correspondent in the wake of his ban, and have noted that Trump's actions are an unconstitutional limitation of the free press.
Even so, some conservatives are attempting to smear Acosta by posting doctored footage of the incident on social media in order to make it appear as if he acted aggressively towards the intern.
Here's a side-by-side of the original clip (in which Acosta reacts to having the microphone grabbed) and the sped-up version (in which it is made to look as if the correspondent "chops" at the woman's arm):
At the top of Acosta's Twitter timeline, his pinned tweet from October 29th seems more relevant now than ever.
"We are not the enemy of the people," he wrote. "I am not your enemy. You are not my enemy. It is wrong to call your fellow Americans the enemy. We are all on the same team. We are all Americans."
As Trump's attack on the free press continues, however, we should be concerned that Acosta's ban from the White House is just the first of many more unconstitutional actions.