The White House on Wednesday revoked the press pass issued to CNN correspondent Jim Acosta “until further notice”. The incident followed an interaction between United States President Donald Trump and Acosta, where Trump called the reporter a “rude and terrible person” after he asked him several questions during a post midterm election press conference.
CNN said in a statement that Acosta has the network’s full support. The channel said the revocation “was done in retaliation for his [Acosta] challenging questions”. “This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better,” CNN said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, however, claimed that the reporter had “placed his hands” on an intern who had attempted to take the microphone away from him. Acosta called the claim a “lie”.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” Sanders tweeted. “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.”
Sanders claimed the incident proved Trump’s “support for a free press”.
The White House Correspondents’ Association and the Radio Television Digital News Association are among the several groups that have criticised the Trump administration’s decision. The White House Correspondents’ Association said it objected to security credentials being used “as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship” and “we urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action”, NBC News reported.
In August, Trump had accused CNN of lying about his knowledge of former attorney Michael Cohen’s meeting with Russians in 2016. The president was perhaps referring to the network’s story that his former attorney Michael Cohen claimed the US president knew in advance about a June 2016 meeting with the Russians, who were to provide information on Hillary Clinton.
On August 2, he said journalists were his true political opponents and called them “horrendous people”, despite the United Nations warning that such rhetoric could lead to violence against journalists.