Ebullient CNN Reacts to Its ‘Victory’ Acosta Getting WH Press Pass Back; A Symbol of ‘Press Freedom’

Not surprisingly, CNN was in an exuberant mood on Friday morning after federal judge Timothy Kelley ordered their chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta to have his White House press credentials restored following the Trump administration’s decision on November 7 to yank his pass following yet another act of showboating by Acosta hours earlier at a White House press conference. 

Weekday morning CNN Newsroom co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto broke in following a report on the Florida recounts. Needless to say, they were enthralled with the decision, dubbing it “a victory” not only “for CNN,” but also “press freedom.” 

 

 

Harlow insisted that “this is all about press access to the White House” and “[w]hether any administration likes questions asked or the tone they're asked in or not, this is about the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment.”

Chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin observed that “the ball is really now in the White House's court” because, “in a sane world, I think, what would happen is Jim Acosta would have a meeting with the White House communications director” where that person (in this administration, Bill Shine) would insist that everyone “lower the temperature here.”

A former Obama administration official and thus a partisan, Sciutto fretted in a cheap shot to the White House how that only would happen in “a sane” and “rational world.”

Harlow then continued the shameless self-promotion by gushing:

Even if that's the case and that solves the issue between Jim Acosta, you know, and CNN and the White House on this front, this is, again, a bigger case, Jeffrey. This is a case about whether any White House or any administration has the right, the Fifth and First Amendment right to do this. Shouldn't it be a case that ultimately is decided big picture? 

Moments later, Toobin tried to act a little more sober than the others on-set, stating that the decision was “an extremely savvy and wise resolution of this case” because “this is a way of sort of preserving Jim Acosta's right to do his job and CNN's right to cover the news, which is, of course, paramount in our view, but also telling the White House, you know, you have a right to maintain decorum and discipline.”

Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter was similarly jovial, insisting that Trump “does not want to be questioned” or “challenged” about anything to the point that he won’t “acknowledge what real news is.” Well, Brian, if CNN is the beacon for “what real news is,” then I’m a banana.

In response, Toobin quipped that the President “also hates CNN and the fact that he's targeted CNN is relevant.” Before the panel went to CNN Justice correspondent Jessica Schneider outside the U.S. District Courthouse in D.C., Harlow proclaimed that this entire case concerning the beloved CNN illustrated “a beauty to co-equal branches of government, and checks and balances.” 

Yuck. One has to wonder if she or anyone else at CNN would say the same about a ruling that goes for the Trump administration or someone they don’t like. For as much as CNN thinks of itself as The Avengers, there's likely a fair portion of the American public that instead sees them as the cast of Monty Python and the Holy Grail running away from the Rabbit of Caerbannog.

Editor's Note: This post has been updated with the full analysis of CNN's initial reaction to the Acosta ruling.

To see the relevant transcription from November 16's CNN Newsroom with Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom with Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow
November 16, 2018
10:27 a.m. Eastern

JIM SCIUTTO: We have to break in here because we have breaking news now. Just in to CNN, a federal judge has sided with CNN saying the White House was wrong to revoke our colleague Jim Acosta's press pass. Federal judge Timothy Kelly ordering the White House to reinstate his press pass. This initial victory —

POPPY HARLOW: Immediately. 

SCIUTTO: — to reinstate because they had sought immediate relief to this. So a victory in this case. You can say broader, more than for CNN, than for press freedom. 

SCIUTTO: Again, this is about all press access to the White House. Whether any administration likes questions asked or the tone they're asked in or not, this is about the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment. 

(....)

10:31 a.m. Eastern

TOOBIN: I mean, I guess the ball is really now in the White House's court. They have to decide. Now, in a sane world, I think, what would happen is Jim Acosta would have a meeting with the White House communications director and the director would say let's knock it off. Let's lower the temperature here. Let's, let’s you know, behave like adults. Then the whole thing would be resolved. 

SCIUTTO: That's a sane world. 

TOOBIN: That’s a sane world.

TOOBIN: Let's dismiss the sane world. 

SCIUTTO: That's how this would operate in a rational world. 

HARLOW: Here's a question to both of you on that front. Even if that's the case and that solves the issue between Jim Acosta, you know, and CNN and the White House on this front, this is, again, a bigger case, Jeffrey. This is a case about whether any White House or any administration has the right, the Fifth and First Amendment right to do this. Shouldn't it be a case that ultimately is decided big picture? 

TOOBIN: Well, not necessarily because the next step, as I understand the preliminary ruling, is that the White House has to either drop the whole thing and, you know, patch things up or establish clearer rules about what justifies the removal of a hard pass and how the accused hard pass abusers are allowed to defend themselves. 

(....)

10:32 a.m. Eastern

TOOBIN: All of us, including me, are often cynical about judges and we say he's a Trump appointee, as if that's the answer to all the questions. This strikes me as an extremely savvy and wise resolution of this case. I mean, this — this is a way of sort of preserving Jim Acosta's right to do his job and CNN's right to cover the news, which is, of course, paramount in our view, but also telling the White House, you know, you have a right to maintain decorum and discipline. You just have to do it in an orderly way. 

(....)

10:34 a.m. Eastern

STELTER: This all comes from the top. Let’s be clear. The President of the United States does not want to be questioned. He does not want to be challenged. He does not want to acknowledge what real news is and he's lashing out. He lashed out nine days ago and Acosta was the victim and now Acosta’s press pass is back.

TOOBIN: He also hates CNN and the fact that he's targeted CNN is relevant. 

HARLOW: There is a beauty to co-equal branches of government, and checks and balances.


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NBDaily CNN CNN Newsroom Video Jim Acosta Jim Sciutto Poppy Harlow Jeffrey Toobin Brian Stelter Donald Trump
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