The Legal Precedent That Could Protect Jim Acosta’s Credentials

A 1977 court ruling said that administrations cannot bar correspondents from the briefing room without “due process.”

.. In January 1972, when Sherrill reapplied for White House press credentials, he was again denied without explanation. That’s when the American Civil Liberties Union took his case to federal court. With the ACLU’s help, Sherrill sued the Secret Service for violating his First and Fifth Amendment rights.

By the time a D.C. circuit-court judge ruled in his case in 1977, it had been 11 years after his credentials were originally denied.

.. hen donald trump clashed with Jim Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, at his post-midterms news conference on Wednesday—and later revoked his press credentials—he most likely knew nothing about the precedent set by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Robert Sherrill’s case—precedent, experts said, that put the law squarely on Acosta’s side.

“Thank you Mr. President. I wanted to challenge you on one of the statements that you made on the tail end of the campaign in the midterms,” Acosta started, microphone in hand, staring ahead toward the president from the front row of the press conference.

Trump’s lips pursed and then released. “Here we go,” he said, practically breaking the fourth wall.

“If you don’t mind, Mr. President—” Acosta tried.

“C’mon, c’mon, let’s go.” The president let out a half whistle from his mouth and motioned to his rival to hurry up and ask his question.

“—that this caravan was an invasion.”

“I consider it to be an invasion,” Trump replied.

The exchange became testier and Trump’s complexion reddened. “Honestly, I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN. And if you did it well, your ratings would be better,” Trump told the reporter.

Acosta held on to the microphone as a White House intern tried to grab it back from him. “Mr. President, I had one other question, if I may ask, on the Russia investigation,” Acosta said. “Are you concerned that—”

Trump lifted a finger and wagged it from the podium. “I’m not concerned about anything about the Russia investigation, ’cause it’s a hoax.” He walked away from the podium momentarily, readying for his next hit. Acosta gave in and relinquished the mic.

“I’ll tell you what,” the president huffed. “CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN … You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] is horrible and the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”

When Acosta returned to the White House grounds later that evening to do a live shot for Anderson Cooper 360°, the Secret Service asked for his hard pass, which he had held since 2013, and confiscated it. They were just following orders, and he understood that; the orders came from higher up. His access was revoked: He was locked out of the Trump White House.

.. To explain why Acosta’s credentials had been revoked, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, tweeted a highly edited video on Wednesday that appeared to show Acosta hitting the intern who tried to grab his microphone. Sanders wrote on Twitter, “President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern…” Acosta tweeted back, “This is a lie.”

In actuality, the video Sanders shared was doctored and originally posted by Paul Joseph Watson, a British conspiracy theorist associated with the fake-news website Infowars.

.. The White House Correspondents’ Association denounced “the Trump Administration’s decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship.”

.. The conservative blogger Erick Erickson tweeted, “Y’all, I’m sorry to defy the tribe, but I’ve watched this video over and over and it looks more like @Acosta had his arm out pointing with his finger and when she tried to pull the microphone down, both his arms went down rather naturally.”

.. Among those in media and politics, the widespread consensus was an obvious one: This was not about safety and security; this was not about an assault. Acosta was punished for the way he went about his reporting.
.. “If there are professional concerns that the White House has about Jim Acosta or anyone else, they should express that professionally. They should be talking about that openly and there should be an effort to determine what, if anything, needs to change. The response is not engaging the Secret Service to pull someone’s credentials.”

“That’s just completely inappropriate and just this side of thuggery in my view,” Sesno added.

.. In public remarks on Friday morning, Trump seemed unremorseful about pulling Acosta’s credentials. The president threatened further punishment for reporters like American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan, calling her a “loser.”

“It could be others also” if they “don’t treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect,” Trump said.

.. “Once the government creates the kind of forum that it has created, like the White House briefing room, it can’t selectively include or exclude people on the basis of ideology or viewpoint,” said Ben Wizner, the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

.. The new steps enunciated in the Sherrill decision to ensure that reporters’ First Amendment rights are not violated include

  • the requirement to give the reporter notice and
  • the right to rebut a formal written decision, which must accompany any revocation.

“We further conclude that notice, opportunity to rebut, and a written decision are required because the denial of a pass potentially infringes upon First Amendment guarantees,” the court’s ruling states. “Such impairment of this interest cannot be permitted to occur in the absence of adequate procedural due process.”

.. “If the Secret Service makes this kind of determination that they’re going to no longer let someone have access, or limit access from the start, there should be a really good reason for that,” Michele Kimball, a media-law professor at George Washington University, said. “And if you are denied that access, there should be some sort of procedural due process for you, [so] that you can find out what happened.
.. “What they’ve done here is not only unwise, but probably illegal,” the ACLU’s Wizner concluded.
.. He clearly relished that role as an outsider, because when he won his 11-year battle with the White House to get credentialed, he opted against it.
.. “The fun thing about this was that when I was finally going to get a press pass, I never applied,” Sherrill told the Times. “I didn’t want to be in the White House. I had been in Washington long enough to realize that was the last place to waste your time sitting around for some dumb [expletive] to give a press conference.”
When all was said and done, Sherrill knew his best work would be done far away from the place he was never allowed to visit.

Why Online Politics Gets So Extreme So Fast | The Ezra Klein Show

During the 2016 campaign, Zeynep Tufekci was watching videos of Donald Trump rallies on YouTube. But then, she writes, she “noticed something peculiar. YouTube started to recommend and ‘autoplay’ videos for me that featured white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials and other disturbing content.”

And it wasn’t just Trump videos. Watching Hillary Clinton rallies got her “arguments about the existence of secret government agencies and allegations that the United States government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11.” Nor was it just politics. “Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons.”

Tufekci is a New York Times columnist and a professor at the University of North Carolina. She’s also one of the clearest thinkers around on how digital platforms work, how their algorithms understand and shape our preferences, and what the consequences are for society. So as we learn that Facebook is detecting new efforts at electoral manipulation and as we watch online politics become ever more bitter and divisive, I wanted to talk with Tufekci about how digital platforms have become engines of radicalization, and what we can do about it.

 

In an oral culture, memory is prized.

In a social media culture, attention-getting is prized.  The Kardashians do this.  Trump is an ex-reality television star, because that is what he excelled at.  She thinks this won’t work well because it will be misunderstood.  You don’t have control over where it goes.

What is this media training us to do?  It is rewarding attention-grabbing with political power and money.   Politicians try to get attention without letting it take over.

The space is so crowded, so competitive.

What really wins when thousands of things are competing?  (28:50 min)

Things that outrage or excite core identities.  Really funny, mean, or shocking.

We are taught to believe that competition is always better.  The more we train people to win this war, it is easy to see how so much falls along identity lines, funny, mean, shocking.

Every company knows the power of the default.

The most effective forms of censorship involve messing with trust and attention.

Is censorship the right word?  People are asking this of Facebook and Google.

What to do with Alex Jones and what to call him?

3 degrees of Alex Jones: you can start anywhere on Facebook? and Alex Jones will be recommended.

With InfoWars they are targeting people for violent incitement.  Claiming that the Sandy Hooks parents kids are actors and they pretended a shooting occurred so that the government can take your guns away.

They are not governments; they are gatekeepers.

Ted Cruz has allied himself with someone who said his father helped kill JFK.

We need forms of due process

Donald Trump and the “Amazing” Alex Jones

Infowars and its proprietor, Alex Jones, who is a conspiracy theorist and radio talk-show host in Austin, Texas.

.. Jones’s amazing reputation arises mainly from his high-volume insistence that national tragedies such as the September 11th terror attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sandy Hook elementary-school shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombing were all inside jobs, “false flag” ops secretly perpetrated by the government to increase its tyrannical power (and, in some cases, seize guns).

.. Jones believes that no one was actually hurt at Sandy Hook—those were actors—and that the Apollo 11 moon-landing footage was faked.

.. Does Donald Trump actually believe any of this? Or is he laughing up his sleeve as apoplectic fact-checkers throw themselves into the thankless work of disproving his absurdities? To cover himself, he prefaces his more outlandish remarks with disclaimers like “I hear” or “A lot of people think.” (To back up his contention that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims publicly celebrated the 9/11 attacks in New Jersey, he tweeted a link to Infowars.

..  Trump is playing a different game.

.. He is playing to Americans who do not trust the media or traditional information sources, such as the government. He offers alternative narratives, fantasies that shock and satisfy. He entertains. On “Meet the Press,” after Chuck Todd asked him for evidence supporting his claim that a protester at one of his rallies had ties to the Islamic State, Trump said, “All I know is what’s on the Internet.” He said that.

.. In a GQ profile of Hope Hicks, his spokeswoman, by Olivia Nuzzi, Trump’s daily news briefing is described as printouts of “30 to 50 Google News results for ‘Donald J. Trump.’ ” Trump goes at the items with a marker and, according to a GQ source, “He reads something he doesn’t like by a reporter, and it’s like, ‘This motherfucker! All right, fine. Hope?’ He circles it. ‘This guy’s banned! He’s banned for a while.’

.. He has gut instincts for pleasing members of a fact-averse crowd—for speaking what’s on their minds. He seems to be a narcissist of bottomless insecurity and need

.. “I know more about isis than the generals do,” he said at one of his rallies. “Believe me. I’m good at war. I’ve had a lot of wars of my own. I’m really good at war.”