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Monday, November 12, 2018

C.J. Cregg = Sarah Sanders (Updated)

Attorney David Lurie argues in Slate that CNN should sue the Secret Service over revocation of reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials. He argues that CNN has a good case. D.C. Circuit precedent holds that reporters must receive process in the denial or revocation of credentials and that the basis for revocation cannot be that the reporter criticized the President or anyone else in the White House. And the President admitted that Acosta's credentials were revoked because he did not treat the presidency with "respect" and that he might do the same to other reporters.

Update: CNN and Acosta, represented by Gibson Dunn, has filed suit, claiming violations of the First and Fifth Amendments and the APA; named defendants are Trump, Kelly, Sanders, William Shine (Deputy Chief of Staff, the Secret Service, and the head of the Secret Service.

The incident brought to mind S3E4 of The West Wing, titled "On the Day Before." Press secretary C.J. Cregg gets pissed at a reporter who inaccurately reported on something that C.J. had done. C.J. tells the reporter that she is having the reporter's credentials revoked and that the reporter must call C.J.'s office every day so C.J. can decide if the reporter will be allowed into the press room. And this was played with C.J. as the hero, standing up and justly sanctioning the vapid, dishonest, and unethical reporter.

This is another illustration of Aaron Sorkin writing the Trump Administration in the Bartlet Administration,  with much of the behavior and norm-breaking that we have seen the past two years; the difference is that Sorkin's characters did it in service of a liberal Democratic agenda, while the Trump Administration has done it in service of a very different agenda. There is no difference between Trump and Sarah Sanders stripping Acosta of his credential and C.J. doing the same to that fictional reporter--both are mad because the reporter treated them unfairly.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 12, 2018 at 08:44 PM in Culture, First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink

Comments

Now do the part where Bartlett conceals a degenerative illness from the electorate--one that can (and in the end, does) severely affect his ability to do his job.

Posted by: YesterdayIKilledAMammoth | Nov 20, 2018 12:48:19 AM

*Is* Jim Acosta a respected correspondent? Does he ask reasonable and intelligent questions reasonably and intelligently? Based on my own education and admittedly limited time as a journalist, I would have thought the answer was no, and would bet quite comfortably that this view would be widely shared by serious journalists. Of course that is not meant as an evaluation of the propriety of the White House’s actions here. But I find the difference between Acosta and a fictional hack TV entertainment/gossip reporter narrower than the difference between Acosta and a serious reporter. Granted that I think this holds true more generally for all broadcast journalists, but I suspect Acosta is even more poorly regarded by real journalists, including other broadcast journalists themselves, than are other broadcast journalists.

There is the separate point that in my experience most reporters think, and have done so for decades and through good and bad presidencies of both parties, that West Wing press conferences are silly Kabuki theater and, because they are on TV, receive way more attention than they deserve and are not a serious part of meaningful White House reporting—although they do nicely fill the time between ads for 24-hour broadcasters. As I said, it’s a separate point and doesn’t affect the general question whether the White House (which is fully complicit in the Kabuki, as all administrations since Kennedy’s, if not FDR’s, have been) acted wrongly here. But we needn’t take Acosta, broadcast news networks, or West Wing press briefings more seriously than they deserve to do that analysis, and doing so may distract us from more consequential questions about journalism, this White House, and the relationship between the two. Nor does the genuine question whether the White House acted wrongly preclude our asking whether Acosta’s model of performance—and what else could one call it but a type of performance?—is actually healthy or useful.

Acknowledging the key point that one half of the comparison involves fiction, and that even that fictional administration was portrayed as following basic professional norms often violated by this non-fictional administration, I found Howard’s comparison useful. He was not, as I read him, in any way suggesting that the two administrations are identical. But I lived in DC when the show aired and remember well the degree of wish-fulfillment and delight with which ostensibly serious elites viewed the show. Howard’s post is a useful reminder to be careful what you wish for, and that something that looks attractive when engaged in by a friend may look different and less attractive when engaged in by an adversary.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Nov 14, 2018 9:58:25 AM

Rosie: Fiction v. reality aside, you are making a substantive assessment of the speech, which is precisely what we don't want the government to be able to do.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Nov 14, 2018 6:41:50 AM

Doctoring a videotape to defame a reporter is a pretty big deal; that does not sound like it happened on the West Wing. In any event, Trumo’s Samders’ New rationale is that the reporter was not respecting the President/Office of the President with sufficient respect. Such respect, of course, needs to go both ways. It would be hard to argue that Trump or Sanders treats the press with sufficient respect: “Fake news” “enemy of the people” “your ratings are bad”, “your question is stupid/racist” and of course lying to the point of insulting everyone’s intelligence. Respect is simply not earned here by Sanders/Trump.

Posted by: Public NME | Nov 14, 2018 5:49:48 AM

There is a huge difference. One is a fictional television show and the other is supposed to be a real government, although it certainly resembles fiction. The reporter in The West Wing episode was not a respected professional White House Correspondent from an international network like Jim Acosta, but rather a local D.C. entertainment reporter who was there to cover an event at the White House. The fictional reporter tried to turn the death of Americans on foreign soil into a gossip story about the Press Secretary. She was not banned, she just had to ask to be let in each day of her remaining short-term assignment. Jim Acosta was simply trying to do his job by asking the President legitimate and reasonable questions that Trump refused to answer because he didn't like the questions, and then decided to ban him from the White House. Again, there's a huge difference.

Posted by: Rosie | Nov 13, 2018 11:54:37 PM

Thanks for that update indeed . One may access the " Administrative Procedure act " here :

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/jmd/legacy/2014/05/01/act-pl79-404.pdf

Just one should notice , that according to the complaint made , the connection with that mysterious caravan , is as follows , I quote:

Speaking through a hand-held microphone, as did all the White House journalists who asked questions, Acosta asked a question about one of President Trump’s statements during the midterm campaign—namely, whether a caravan making its way to the United States from Central America constitutes “an invasion” of the country, a significant feature of the President’s
messaging during the just-ended campaign. The President declined to respond, instead remarking: “You know what? I think you should . . . I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN. And if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”

End of quotation :

So , the related article was bit messy it seems on that point , now bit better indeed .

Thanks

Posted by: El roam | Nov 13, 2018 12:16:24 PM

Interesting . One just should notice , that the pretext ( according to the related article ) was that claim that Acosta is apparently a security risk , after allegedly assaulting that intern , that tried to rip the microphone out of Acosta .

To my best knowledge , there are no rules of conduct , or any protocol concerning such press briefings or whatever . One should not forget :

Journalists should be treated with respect . This is a very essential public necessity or policy . On the other hand :

This is also his show ( of the president ) . He has also a privilege or prerogative , to run that show , as he finds fit . But , as long as substantial free speech issues , are well respected . One can't either compel the president , to tolerate illicit conduct .

So , the best solution , would be based on complete transparency . There are rules . There is compelling protocol . Journalists should respect it , and be aware in advance to it . So , such incidents would be observed or analyzed in accordance with strict and transparent rules , avoiding so , mere baseless speculations .

Like here , you read about assault , then back-mind concerning the Russian investigation of special prosecutor ( Mueller ) then a mysterious caravan of immigrants as alleged illicit pretexts . What is it all that ?? It is the White house , not a street show .

So , such protocol would dictate for example :

What is the subject , or the sole subject of one press conference . When and how , questions outside of the pre determined subject are allowed . How technically , in what order , journalists are raising questions , and so forth...

Thanks

Posted by: El roam | Nov 13, 2018 6:12:54 AM

"There is no difference between Trump and Sarah Sanders stripping Acosta of his credential and C.J. doing the same to that fictional reporter--both are mad because the reporter treated them unfairly."

I've never watched The West Wing, so can't comment directly on the comparison, but from what I saw, there wasn't any indication at all that Acosta had treated anyone - Sanders or Trump or anyone else "unfairly". Surely annoying someone, or even being disrespectful to them (though I don't think that's accurate, either) isn't to treat them unfairly. If that's right, then this is even more of a bit of thuggery, even if a relatively penny-ante one in some ways.

Posted by: Matt | Nov 13, 2018 2:31:41 AM

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