A Number of Free Press Advocacy Organizations Have Defended CNN in Advance of This Afternoon’s Hearing

By A.J. Katz Comment

President Trump, John Kelly, Sarah Sanders and Bill Shine have until 11 a.m. ET today to send their responses to CNN’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday, which demands that Jim Acosta‘s White House press access be re-instated.

Judge Timothy Kelly, a federal judge appointed by Trump, has scheduled the hearing for 3:30 p.m. ET today.

A number of free press organizations have condemned the White House’s move to ban Acosta from having White House access.

“It is un-American and unlawful for the president to expel a reporter from the White House briefing room for doing his job,” said ACLU speech, privacy and technology project director Ben Wizner. “It shouldn’t take a lawsuit from CNN to remind the president of the First Amendment. The White House should reverse its decision immediately.”

“The Trump administration’s attempt to punish CNN and Jim Acosta was, and is, outrageous and unacceptable,” said RTDNA executive director Dan Shelley. “It was an unwarranted escalation of anti-First Amendment and press freedom rancor consistently used by this president and his acolytes.”

Shelley added: “If left unchecked, the administration’s action could give license to elected and public officials across the land to deny journalists, and, by extension, the public, of access to information they have a right and need to know.”

“President Trump’s revocation of Acosta’s credentials is, simply put, extraordinary and out of line,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “It’s decidedly out of step with the traditions of freedom of speech and of the press enshrined in our Constitution, at the heart of our democracy, and long respected by presidential administrations of both parties, even in moments of great tension between the press and the president.”

The White House Correspondents Association said: “The President of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.” And the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press weighed in, “Why the Constitution bars Trump from retaliating against Jim Acosta.”

Additionally, a delegation from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is meeting with Trump administration official Mercedes Schlapp at the White House at 2:30pm ET to discuss Acosta’s credentials, treatment of minority journalists and all Journalists, commitment of White House to traditions of press access, transparency, first amendment and journalists responsibility to be voice of the people, and representation of Latino community.

Here’s the NAHJ’s original statement:

President Hugo Balta of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) condemns the treatment of CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent and NAHJ Member Jim Acosta, during President Trump’s press conference and the decision to revoke his press pass.  By harassing the journalist for simply doing his job and deeming Acosta as the “enemy of the people”, President Trump is engaging in a calculated effort of putting a target on this journalist’s back.

Additionally, this evening’s announcement to revoke Acosta’s credentials is the latest intimidation tactic by the Trump administration to silence the press. The accusation that Acosta “placed his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern” is not true. The video recorded at the press briefing shows him putting his arm on top of hers as she tried to take the microphone away. The video documented publicly, can be found here.

“The President of the United States is undermining American democracy,” said Balta.  “Our association will commit to holding this administration accountable for any harm they cause to all journalists by these types of incessant attacks.”

“I have reached out to our colleagues at CNN to see how we can support Jim and the best way we can work together to help move forward,” Balta added.

Following two relentless years of rhetoric in an attempt to cause distrust for political gain, there is no indication Trump will lessen his affronts on the media.   As journalists we must continue our commitment to our freedom and an unwavering pursuit of truth. We have a duty to hold government accountable and cannot tolerate those that target our journalists who are upholding the First Amendment.

NAHJ continues to stand with journalists everywhere who are simply doing their jobs on behalf of the public in pursuing truth and holding the powerful accountable for their statements and their actions.

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