The actions taken by the White House show a clear disdain for the tenets of a free and open democracy.
“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
That’s one of the many protections guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (document accessible at ). But those protections are under assault by the current White House administration.
CNN’s Jim Acosta had his press credentials indefinitely revoked by the White House, a move that Press Secretary Sarah Sanders justified by suggesting Acosta assaulted an intern during a press briefing with President Donald Trump on Wednesday. In fact, video of the incident in question demonstrates that Acosta’s and the intern’s arms briefly bumped as the intern tried to take the microphone away from the CNN reporter, per previous reporting from .
The White House itself released video of the accidental arm-bumping, using it to justify the revocation of Acosta’s credentials. But the video released by the White House was doctored, produced by an editor from Infowars, a conservative website whose misleading and incendiary reporting has landed it on the banned list of many social media sites across the internet.
During the press briefing with the president, Trump alleged again that CNN was “fake news.” But it appears in this instance that the only people peddling a fake story here are White House staffers and conservative media they deem favorable to them.
CNN tears into Sarah Sanders over Acosta video: "You released a doctored video – actual fake news" https://t.co/Jm6tj7EUj7pic.twitter.com/S4nqrkQaFb
— The Hill (@thehill) November 8, 2018
The White House has the right, of course, to grant press credentials to whomever they like. But the justification given for why they took away Acosta’s ability to cover the president is complete hogwash, and is demonstrative of a frightening pattern that is not uncommon for this administration: of attacking and making undue accusations toward the media.
Trump himself lies to the American people, several times on a daily basis, as evidenced by reporting from the . And as time goes by, the number of lies he tells per day keeps going up.
That conduct needs to be called out on. Acosta was doing just that when he had the microphone in his hand, questioning the president describing a caravan of immigrants coming to America seeking asylum as “invaders.”
The White House is using the brief touching of arms, which happened only because of the intern’s reaching to try to grab the microphone from Acosta, as justification for suppressing a member of the press whose reporting has tried to hold the president accountable for his lies. That cannot be allowed to stand.
Every decent American in favor of press freedoms (as well as the ability for anyone to question the president’s false assertions on various topics) needs to look at this incident and see it plainly for what it truly is: an assault on democratic rights.
Trump can defend himself, can assert that the press is putting his comments in a negative light, but he cannot be allowed to take actions such as these against journalists simply because he can’t handle the pressures of being held to account for his baseless statements. Americans must take a stand against this action, which in any other democracy could be described as quasi-tyrannical behavior.