Acosta victorious

Judge Timothy Kelly of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. has temporarily reinstated Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials. In doing so, Kelly clearly indicated that his ruling was strictly based on Acosta’s right to due process pursuant to the 5th Amendment in the Constitution. While some in the media are calling this a victory for the press on First Amendment grounds, their celebration might be premature, as the only thing that Acosta was guaranteed by way of this ruling was a seat at future press conferences and/or briefings.

Kelly’s ruling was quite narrow in scope. Specifically, as set forth in a recent article in Hot Air, Kelly was bound by the Sherill case, where the majority stated:

[W]e are presented with a situation where the White House has voluntarily decided to establish press facilities for correspondents who need to report therefrom. These press facilities are perceived as being open to all bona fide Washington-based journalists, whereas most of the White House itself, and press facilities in particular, have not been made available to the general public. White House press facilities having been made publicly available as a source of information for newsmen, the protection afforded newsgathering under the first amendment guarantee of freedom of the press … requires that this access not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons….

In our view, the procedural requirements of notice of the factual bases for denial, an opportunity for the applicant to respond to these, and a final written statement of the reasons for denial are compelled by the foregoing determination that the interest of a bona fide Washington correspondent in obtaining a White House press pass is protected by the first amendment. This first amendment interest undoubtedly qualifies as liberty which may not be denied without due process of law under the fifth amendment. 

Pursuant to Sherill, the White House should have provided Acosta with adequate notice and an opportunity to respond prior to revoking his hard pass. The White House failed to do so. The subsequent question/issue of whether Acosta’s conduct/demeanor at the press conference provided a compelling enough reason for the White House to revoke his hard pass will likely be decided by a higher court at a future date.

While Acosta might have temporarily won the battle, he might have also uttered his last question at a White House press conference/briefing. While Kelly’s decision temporarily gave Acosta the right to attend White House press conferences, media briefings and other events, it did not grant Acosta the right to ask any questions, nor did it compel President Trump to field or entertain any of Acosta’s many questions. 

Many could argue that Acosta brought this on himself. In a recent article in the New York Post, the Michael Goodwin stated: “As is his habit, Acosta doesn’t ask questions -- he makes accusations and argues. Almost daily, he does it with the press secretary; Wednesday, he did it with the president.” Another recent article in The American Conservative was also critical of Acosta:

More importantly, self-aggrandizing harangues that turn the reporter into the story are not a legitimate form of journalism. As the Society of Professional Journalists warns, “injecting oneself into the story or creating news events for coverage is not objective reporting, and it ultimately calls into question the ability of a journalist to be independent, which can damage credibility.”  

A reporter is entitled, and encouraged, to ask tough questions. In doing so, he/she should not argue and/or become belligerent and should ensure that his/her questions are objective and not self-serving. When these lines are blurred, this is problematic.  

Acosta will have a lot of time to dwell about his most recent victory against the president. When other reporters are asking questions, Acosta will be able to sit there, stare at his hard pass, and think about how he one-upped President Trump. 

Mr. Hakim’s articles have been published in the Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller, the Federalist, the Western Journal, American Thinker and other online publications.  

Twitter: @ThoughtfulGOP

Judge Timothy Kelly of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. has temporarily reinstated Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials. In doing so, Kelly clearly indicated that his ruling was strictly based on Acosta’s right to due process pursuant to the 5th Amendment in the Constitution. While some in the media are calling this a victory for the press on First Amendment grounds, their celebration might be premature, as the only thing that Acosta was guaranteed by way of this ruling was a seat at future press conferences and/or briefings.

Kelly’s ruling was quite narrow in scope. Specifically, as set forth in a recent article in Hot Air, Kelly was bound by the Sherill case, where the majority stated:

[W]e are presented with a situation where the White House has voluntarily decided to establish press facilities for correspondents who need to report therefrom. These press facilities are perceived as being open to all bona fide Washington-based journalists, whereas most of the White House itself, and press facilities in particular, have not been made available to the general public. White House press facilities having been made publicly available as a source of information for newsmen, the protection afforded newsgathering under the first amendment guarantee of freedom of the press … requires that this access not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons….

In our view, the procedural requirements of notice of the factual bases for denial, an opportunity for the applicant to respond to these, and a final written statement of the reasons for denial are compelled by the foregoing determination that the interest of a bona fide Washington correspondent in obtaining a White House press pass is protected by the first amendment. This first amendment interest undoubtedly qualifies as liberty which may not be denied without due process of law under the fifth amendment. 

Pursuant to Sherill, the White House should have provided Acosta with adequate notice and an opportunity to respond prior to revoking his hard pass. The White House failed to do so. The subsequent question/issue of whether Acosta’s conduct/demeanor at the press conference provided a compelling enough reason for the White House to revoke his hard pass will likely be decided by a higher court at a future date.

While Acosta might have temporarily won the battle, he might have also uttered his last question at a White House press conference/briefing. While Kelly’s decision temporarily gave Acosta the right to attend White House press conferences, media briefings and other events, it did not grant Acosta the right to ask any questions, nor did it compel President Trump to field or entertain any of Acosta’s many questions. 

Many could argue that Acosta brought this on himself. In a recent article in the New York Post, the Michael Goodwin stated: “As is his habit, Acosta doesn’t ask questions -- he makes accusations and argues. Almost daily, he does it with the press secretary; Wednesday, he did it with the president.” Another recent article in The American Conservative was also critical of Acosta:

More importantly, self-aggrandizing harangues that turn the reporter into the story are not a legitimate form of journalism. As the Society of Professional Journalists warns, “injecting oneself into the story or creating news events for coverage is not objective reporting, and it ultimately calls into question the ability of a journalist to be independent, which can damage credibility.”  

A reporter is entitled, and encouraged, to ask tough questions. In doing so, he/she should not argue and/or become belligerent and should ensure that his/her questions are objective and not self-serving. When these lines are blurred, this is problematic.  

Acosta will have a lot of time to dwell about his most recent victory against the president. When other reporters are asking questions, Acosta will be able to sit there, stare at his hard pass, and think about how he one-upped President Trump. 

Mr. Hakim’s articles have been published in the Washington Examiner, the Daily Caller, the Federalist, the Western Journal, American Thinker and other online publications.  

Twitter: @ThoughtfulGOP