One of the interesting—as in the ancient Chinese curse—things about America is the hidden, previously unimaginable, new and innovative rights judges are able to find in the Constitution. Unlike in National Treasure, no arcane chemical or optical processes are necessary to find these cleverly concealed rights.
Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection reports:
Based on reports from reporters in the media room, it appears that the Judge ruled that while the White House doesn’t have to allow any reporters into the White House, by setting up a credentialing process it owes people like Acosta due process, and that it confers a First Amendment interest entitled to protection. The Court appears to have ruled that Acosta’s First Amendment rights supercede the White House interest in orderly press conferences, and that Acosta was not given due process in the revocation process.
That’s right gentle readers: any given boorish, juvenile, arrogant, and petulantly disruptive reporter with a propensity for violence now has a constitutional right to assault White House interns, and to a White House hard pass! Fox News,which organization asserts the same rights, adds some flavor:
[Judge] Kelly’s decision is temporary and further hearings are expected to take place in the next few weeks to determine whether or not yanking the credential violated CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. The temporary order lasts for 14 days and CNN can now petition the Court for a permanent injunction.
‘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,’ CNN said in a statement. [skip]
‘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. Let’s go back to work,’ Acosta said outside the U.S. District Court.
Yes, back to work so Acosta can grandstand, and deny his “colleagues” the opportunity to ask questions. This, I suppose, is Fox’s attempt at fairness and balance, after helping to wreck the Constitution:
Acosta has emerged as a hero of the #Resistance after making a habit of shouting and interrupting when Trump and members of his administration are available to the media. Acosta has also gotten into combative arguments with other members of the administration, including former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller.
Let’s return to Prof. Jacobson:
Quick Assessment: This is a bad decision, which effectively gives an individual reporter control over the White House press briefing process. It the White House can’t revoke the credentials of someone who disrupts a press conference in the way Acosta did, including refusing to turn over the microphone, then press conferences will turn into even more of a circus than they already are. Clearly, the lack of any formal process for revocation of press credentials influenced the court. Trump still appears to have the right not to call on Acosta. But what it Acosta refuses to stay silent, shouts, injects himself into the conference, and otherwise disrupts proceedings when he is not called on? The White House better set up, if it doesn’t have it already, a speedy but ‘due’ process to revoke the credentials.
The bad precedent goes beyond the good Professor’s points. Judge Kelly has arguably established a right for reporters to go anywhere at any time, and assert a due process right prior to their removal, apparently regardless of their misbehavior.
Since we don’t have a transcript, we must rely on media accounts. It appears Judge Kelly said once reporters are allowed on White House grounds, they magically gain a First, and probably a Fifth Amendment right to remain there. He also apparently, and graciously, said President Trump doesn’t have to call on Acosta, but has to suffer Acosta’s bad behavior, and may not remove him absent some sort of due process hearing.
So, for the moment, Americans apparently have these new liberties, but only if they are members of the accredited “press”:
*The right, once allowed on White House grounds for any reason whatever, and for however long, to a White House Hard Pass.
*The right to harass the President of The United States at will druing press conferences.
*The right to a due process hearing prior to being ejected for bad behavior of any kind or duration.
*The right to assault female White House interns.
*the right to deny every other reporter a turn at harassing the president.
*Encouragement, if not a right, for the media to run to judges whenever they conjure up a grievance against President Trump.
Poor Jim Acosta. This relief cannot come too soon. One can only imagine the torment suffered by such a special snowflake.
One might reasonably wonder how a separate, co-equal branch of the government can tell the President of The United States how press conference must be conducted, and how and whether disruptive persons may or may not be removed from the White House. “An appropriate response to Judge Kelly might be “none of your damned business.”
Of course, if Mr. Trump simply declines to hold any further press conferences, I’m sure Judge Kelly or a similar worthy will be happy to find a constitutional right to force Mr. Trump to hold press conferences.
In an interview with Chris Wallace, Mr. Trump said if Acosta misbehaves, he’ll just stop the press conference and walk out, trusting in the colleagues that love Acosta so much to take care of him. But I’m sure the media could find some judge to find that unconstitutional too. After all, if the First Amendment extends to press passes at the White House, why wouldn’t it extend to reporters being able to demand press conferences with the President on their terms and timetables?
The Supreme Court may have to deal with this mess. Hopefully, more restrained minds may prevail, and say, essentially, “it’s none of your damned business, CNN, and Jim Acosta may kiss our black-robed posteriors.”
Even so, I’m sure there are other fundamental liberties yet to be discovered on behalf of the most dimwitted, abusive and odious media twerps. What a glorious day for the First Amendment.
And in other news, why normal Americans increasingly hate the media remains a mystery…
UPDATE, 11-18-18, 1230 CST: While traveling this morning, I chanced to hear an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News. Wallace is generally a reasonable and ethical journalist, but he inadvertently revealed why most journalists cannot possibly understand why normal Americans distrust them. Asked about the Acosta case, Wallace said he had never seen anything like Acosta’s wretched behavior in the press conference at issue. He even admitted Acosta pushed the female intern. He made it clear he absolutely did not agree with what Acosta did. So far, so good. Then he added taking away Acosta’s press pass went too far.
Wallace, who stands head and shoulders above most journalists in honesty and fairness, is, first, foremost, and always, a journalist. As such, he suffers from willful ethical blindness.
Normal Americans do not think taking Acosta’s press pass was going too far. Many of them, had they been there, would have done violence to Acosta for putting his hands on a woman. What does Wallace think might be appropriate? A stern talking-to? A strongly worded letter of rebuke? A withering glance? President Trump did most of that and it didn’t work. Wallace, and the media, looking out for their own narrow prerogatives and nothing else, are glad to suggest the President has no power to regulate press conferences or to eject disruptive, hostile people. Unlimited press access for one jerk who daily damages the image of all journalists is far, far more important than civility and good manners, violence against women and what little and rapidly dwindling reputation for integrity the news business has left.
Wallace and his colleagues believe they have special powers and rights which override the law, decorum and even common decency, and all in the pursuit of news, which is all too often grossly biased, outright false, and/or intentionally abusive.
One day Acosta will confront normal Americans who understand that politeness is the foundation of civilization. They will not be impressed, and they will surely not think removing his press pass is sufficient attitude readjustment. They will demonstrate to Acosta just what powers and rights he does not have. And to paraphrase Paul Simon, they will not be convicted by a jury of their peers.