The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of journalists, editors and media executives for press freedom, today condemned the White House’s decision to suspend the press pass of CNN’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, until further notice.
The suspension of Acosta’s “hard pass” guaranteeing access to the White House grounds was announced by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders following U.S. President Donald Trump’s post-midterm election press conference yesterday. During the news conference, Acosta posed several questions to Trump, including about the possible impact of the president’s decision to call a group of migrants travelling from Central America to the U.S. southern border “an invasion”. Trump in response called Acosta a “rude, terrible person”.
The revocation of Acosta’s access to the White House grounds was announced soon after the press conference. On Twitter, Sanders defended the decision by saying that the White House does not “tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern”. Video of the press conference shows the intern trying to take the microphone from Acosta’s hand and does not support Sanders’s claims. CNN called the accusations “fraudulent” and the suspension of Acosta’s press pass “unprecedented”.
“We fear that following the mid-term elections the White House is increasing its hostility toward journalists and media organizations”, IPI North America Committee Chair Martha Steffens, SABEW Chair in Business and Financial Reporting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, said.
“President Trump views the press as adversaries and views any critical reporting of his administration as personal attacks, instead of information necessary to a functioning democracy, where checks and balances are in place.”
The decision was instantly criticized by the White House Correspondents’ Association, and it urged the White House to immediately reverse the action.