CNN media critic attacks White House ground rules for press conferences

CNN seems to have forgotten the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for."  After filing suit over the revocation of Jim Acosta's hard pass to the White House and winning, that network's media beat reporter is upset.  Speaking on CNN's Newsroom, Brian Stelter seems certain that danger lurks in the new open and transparent rules provided by the White House in response to the judge's demand for due process on decisions over revocation of access to press conferences or the White House.

Joe DePaolo of Mediaite writes:

Brian Stelter stated his belief that nothing has been resolved, and the White House will use their battle with Acosta as something of a message to other reporters.

"I think that the White House wants to string this along, wants to make this a threat that looms over the entire White House press corps," Stelter said.

The Reliable Sources host referred to a letter the White House sent Acosta informing him of ground rules for behavior at future press conferences.

Here are the rules that Stelter finds worrisome:

Screen grab via Grabien.

The rules are absolutely commonsensical, and they work to allow more correspondents access to questioning the president or other official speaking that day.  If a follow-up question is necessary and not permitted, then other correspondents can step up and push for answers.  If no one does so, then maybe the question was not that compelling in the first place.

Remember when the media caterwauled about President Trump's lack of "decorum"?  Or his claimed violation of the norms of presidential behavior?  This new letter, laying out the explicit rules, will help maintain decorum.  Stelter may not be able to admit it, but his colleague Acosta has been way out of line, and only anti-Trump solidarity among the media (a huge problem that the media won't admit) has prevented public shaming of Acosta by his colleagues, many of whom deeply resent him.

Stelter has just reinforced President Trump's view of CNN as reflexively opposed to him no matter what he does.

Video and transcript via Grabien:

STELTER: "What we have here is a two-page letter from the White House that was sent over to Acosta a few minutes ago. And it confirms that his hard pass, that's the pass he uses every day to enter the White House, will be restored. That means the White House is voluntarily granting access back to Acosta. Whereas back on Friday, it was a court that was forcing the White House to give his pass back temporarily. So we've been in the midst of this 14-day temporary restraining order. There's 11 more days remaining on it, as mandated by a judge. There's some back and forth over the weekend, where it seemed the White House was once again threatening Acosta, saying that as soon as that temporary restraining order expires, you're going to be out of here again. CNN went back to court this morning, asked the judge for another hearing, but the change here, this backing down as of 3:00 P.M., is that the White House is saying in this letter, that the pass will be restored voluntarily by the Administration. Now, there is, of course, a caveat. And I think that the White House wants to straighten this along and makes this a threat that looms over the entire White House press corps."

Update: The White House Correspondents' Association is openly promising to defy the limitation on follow-up questions.

The president of the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) said Monday that the group "fully expect[s]" White House reporters to continue asking follow-up questions at presidential news conferences.

Earlier Monday, the White House announced new rules for reporters at news conferences that include limiting the ability of reporters to ask follow-up questions.

"The White House Correspondents' Association had no role in crafting any procedures for future press conferences. For as long as there have been White House press conferences, White House reporters have asked follow-up questions," WCHA President Olivier Knox wrote in a statement.

"We fully expect this tradition will continue.  We will continue to make the case that a free and independent news media plays a vital role in the health of our republic," Knox continued.

They can back each other up by pressing follow-up to questions asked by others, which would be the grown-up thing to do.  But my guess is that we will see another scene of reporters defying the president and grandstanding by refusing to relinquish the microphone.  That would play into Trump's hands.

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