First Amendment advocates hailed Friday’s ruling by a federal-court judge that will result in at least a temporary return of CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials, which were yanked more than a week ago, following a news-conference dustup between Acosta and President Donald Trump.
Since then, Fox News and more than a dozen other news organizations have joined ranks with CNN to argue that Trump can’t revoke a reporter’s press credentials simply because he didn’t like a question the reporter asked, which appeared to be the case with Acosta.
Still, Jim Windolf, media editor of The New York Times, was among those expressing caution after Judge Timothy J. Kelly granted a temporary restraining order blocking the White House’s revocation. “Subtext of the judge’s order: You can kick a reporter out of the White House, but there are procedures you have to follow,” Windolf tweeted. “So it wasn’t necessarily a victory for the First Amendment.”
In a hearing in D.C. federal court, Kelly ruled that the government violated Acosta’s Fifth Amendment right to due process when it rescinded his White House press credentials following Trump’s contentious news conference the day after the midterm elections. The ruling signals that Acosta is likely to prevail on the merits of his Fifth Amendment case, as the White House did not properly give notice, explanation, and an opportunity for rebuttal, as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had said was necessary in a similar case decided more than 40 years ago. Kelly explicitly did not rule on Acosta’s claim that his First Amendment rights had been violated.