“Nobody contests Jim Acosta’s right to be a jerk in front of a TV camera,” writes William McGurn in the WSJ.
It’s a mutual convenience to film the press corps and the White House at press briefings. By filming inside the White House grounds, networks convey the illusion of intimacy and authority, Mr. McGurn reminds readers.
In the federal courts, however, Mr. Acosta and his employer, CNN, are now arguing that Donald Trump owes him a White House stage as well. Taking away his hard pass, the claim goes, violates both First Amendment speech rights and Fifth Amendment guarantees of due process. What Mr. Acosta’s cheerleaders don’t seem to appreciate is that elevating a government pass into a constitutional fight will prove a loser in the long run, especially for television outlets such as CNN.
Even the judge who issued a temporary restraining order Friday that restored Mr. Acosta’s pass said he was ruling narrowly and wasn’t pretending to adjudicate the First Amendment claims. David Rivkin, a constitutional lawyer who has served in the Justice Department and the White House Counsel’s Office, calls Mr. Acosta’s legal case “patently absurd,” and notes that, while valuable, a White House pass is not a matter of constitutional right but of a sensible accommodation.
Mike McCurry, Ari Fletcher Suggest No Live Coverage at Press Briefing
This wouldn’t do anything to stop the hot-dogging at pressers featuring the president. It would, however, kill the incentive for showboating at the daily briefings. Again, it is the television press that stands to lose most, especially if Mr. Trump were to couple moving daily briefings off camera with holding few or no press conferences himself.
A lawsuit is not the real way forward, notes Mr. Fletcher, and Jim Acousta is “the wrong hill for the press to die upon.”
It’s for the press and the White House to work together on a reasonable code of conduct. Acosta might not like it, but most White House reporters are polite and won’t mind.
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