At the risk of penning a sentence that has been repeated ad nauseam since Trump was inaugurated: the White House has once again escalated its war on the free press. The controversy over the revocation of CNN journalist Jim Acosta’s White House Press pass has died down somewhat since a judge forced the administration to relent, but today’s news is sure to inflame tensions again.
The White House has officially released new rules dictating how reporters must behave when questioning the president or his officials. They will be allowed to ask a single question and possibly a followup if the administration deigns to permit it.
There is also a section about journalists “physically surrendering the microphone,” clearly a reference to the debacle in which a Trump aide tried to grab a mic from Jim Acosta. The White House then tampered with the video footage to make Acosta look more aggressive, and was rightfully slammed for its duplicity.
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Most tellingly, the fourth rule states that failure to abide by the first three could result in the “suspension or revocation” of a reporter’s White House press pass. It’s written to threaten the same kind of action that was tried and failed against Acosta and seems to be the administration trying to shore up its right to take this kind of anti-press action in the future. It’s a clear sign that Trump and his goons are terrified of transparency or behind held accountable in any way.
PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor shared the rules:
New rules by the White House on reporters asking questions. pic.twitter.com/ji6rW1dvLD
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) November 19, 2018
While the rules are perhaps less damaging than some of the rhetoric Trump has spewed about the “fake news media” in the past, they’re still undeniably part of the larger war being waged against the First Amendment.
This administration wants to erect legal fences to neatly pin in the press and prevent them from asking uncomfortable questions that would inevitably reveal the deluge of lies pouring out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is every patriotic American’s duty to stand behind the reporters facing down this corrupt presidency.