The Website That Shows How a Free Press Can Die

The story of Origo’s transformation from independent news source to government cheerleader offers a blueprint of how Mr. Orban and his allies pulled this off. Rather than a sudden and blatant power grab, the effort was subtle but determined, using a quiet pressure campaign.

Origo’s editors were never imprisoned and its reporters were never beaten up. But in secret meetings — including a pivotal one in Vienna — the website’s original owner, a German-owned telecommunications company, relented. The company, Magyar Telekom, first tried self-censorship. Then it sought a nonpartisan buyer.

But, ultimately, Origo went to the family of Mr. Orban’s former finance minister.

“When Orban came to power in 2010, his aim was to eliminate the media’s role as a check on government,” said Attila Mong, a former public radio anchor and a critic of Mr. Orban. “Orban wanted to introduce a regime which keeps the facade of democratic institutions but is not operated in a democratic manner — and a free press doesn’t fit into that picture.”

Judge hands CNN victory in its bid to restore Jim Acosta’s White House press pass

Kelly, whom Trump appointed to the federal bench last year, handed down his ruling two days after the network and government lawyers argued over whether the president had the power to exclude a reporter from the White House.

In his decision, Kelly ruled that Acosta’s First Amendment rights overruled the White House’s right to have orderly news conferences. Kelly said he agreed with the government’s argument that there was no First Amendment right to come onto the White House grounds. But, he said, once the White House opened up the grounds to reporters, the First Amendment applied.

.. He also agreed with CNN’s argument that the White House did not provide due process. He said the White House’s decision-making was “so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me . . . who made the decision.” The White House’s later written arguments for banning Acosta were belated and weren’t sufficient to satisfy due process, Kelly said.

.. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced Acosta’s “indefinite” suspension last week after the confrontation at the news conference. Trump and Sanders have had several run-ins with Acosta stretching back to before Trump became president.

.. CNN has argued that the ban on Acosta violated his First Amendment rights because it amounts to “viewpoint discrimination” — that is, the president is punishing him for statements and coverage he didn’t like. The network has also said the action violates Acosta’s Fifth Amendment right to due process because his exclusion follows no written guidelines or rules and has no appeal or review procedures.

.. Until the White House’s action last week, no reporter credentialed to cover the president had ever had a press pass revoked.

.. A government lawyer, James Burnham, argued in a hearing before Kelly on Wednesday that the president was within his rights to ban any reporter from the White House at any time, just as he excludes reporters from interviews in the Oval Office. He said Acosta could report on the president “just as effectively” by watching the president on TV or by calling sources within the White House. He also said CNN wouldn’t be injured by Acosta’s exclusion since CNN has dozens of other journalists credentialed for the White House.

.. Burnham also explained that Trump’s rationale for Acosta’s ban was his “rudeness” at last week’s news conference, in effect arguing that Acosta’s conduct, not his right to free speech, was the relevant issue.

The assertions drew a rebuttal from CNN’s lawyer, Boutrous, who described the ban on the reporter as arbitrary, capricious and unprecedented. He said White House reporters need access to the premises to meet with sources and to report on untelevised “gaggles,” impromptu discussions with press aides and other officials, so that banning a reporter from the grounds harms his or her ability to do their job.

..  Trump has suggested other reporters could face a similar fate if they displease him in some unspecified way.

.. During the presidential campaign in 2015 and 2016, Trump banned more than a dozen news organizations from his rallies and public events, including The Washington Post. But he said he wouldn’t do something similar as president. Last week, he went back on that statement.

.. Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign has used the CNN lawsuit to drum up contributions, portraying the suit as evidence of “liberal bias” — an assertion Boutrous brought up on Wednesday to demonstrate that Trump had political reasons for banning Acosta.

No, Jared Kushner, it was not okay to delete my journalists’ work

I was editor in chief of the New York Observer when he allegedly had stories removed from the digital archive in secret. That would be a page out of his father-in-law’s ‘fake news’ book.

Delegitimizing the media is an authoritarian’s signature, and Trump does it intentionally with this kind of malicious, dangerous labeling. His favorite longer-running appellation for journalism that is inconvenient is “fake news” — which is rich, coming from a man whose material success of the past two decades was a reality show on which he pretended to fire people who were not working for him and insisted the drama was real. This is part of who he is: an incorrigible liar who believes he can bend reality to his will simply by insisting loudly and repeatedly things are not what they are.

..  I learned a few months ago his son-in-law, for whom I worked as editor in chief of the New York Observer in 2011 and 2012, is as willing to undermine the work of journalists seeking to publish the truth as Trump is. I have written about what Jared Kushner was like to work for as a businessman, but I had an unexpected coda to my time there a few months ago when a technologist I had worked with confessed to me Kushner had asked him to delete stories that were unflattering to his friends and that he had done it.

.. He could have tried to talk to me about why he objected to the stories, which is a conversation media owners and editors have on occasion at nearly all publications, but he did not.

.. To be clear, the stories were published, initially — some of them in print, and all of them on the Web. The impetus behind deleting them after the fact was to erase the digital trail of the hard work the journalists had done, to undo the factual reality of what they had reported, as far as the public record was concerned.

.. the stories were deleted long enough after publication that the journalists and their editors — including me — would not miss them.

.. There are a number of other technical reasons you might not be able to find a story in the archive, but one that would never occur to any rational journalist, or even any reasonable person, is your boss, the owner of the paper, is stealthily destroying your work and damaging the credibility of his own media publication in the process. Even in the annals of terrible media owners, this is something that would normally be credible only to a conspiracy theorist.

.. If any of us had known our work was being deleted after publication, I am fairly certain there would have been a raft of resignations.

.. what appears to be Trump family values: an active hostility to real journalism, which, if done correctly, is almost always inconvenient for people in power, and a willingness to use deceit to thwart it.

‘I shouldn’t have wasted my effort,’ says man turfed out of Trump summit

Sam Husseini says he was held in ‘dungeon’ after trying to engage US leader on policies