Once again, the White House is attempting to curtail access by journalists to the White House. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has quietly implemented a new rule for access that would affect almost all the journalists who have made a career out of covering the White House.
Last year, when the administration attempted to give CNN’s Jim Acosta the boot from the Press Corps, the fiasco played out like a poorly-scripted movie: Acosta tried to nail down an answer that the President did not want to give, a young female “intern” came and tried to snatch away the microphone Acosta was holding, and Sarah Sanders — as the voice of the White House — posted a heavily edited video of the incident that made it appear as though Acosta had struck the woman during the exchange.
Based on the “evidence” of the fake video, the White House revoked Acosta’s “hard pass” — the actual physical credential he used to gain access to the property so he could do his job as a reporter. But the fakery was discovered, and in fact, other staffers were caught on tape saying “this is going to be fun” in advance of the entire incident, indicating that the whole thing was a setup in the first place. A Trump-appointed judge ordered the White House to give Acosta back his credential, saying that their process for revoking it wasn’t based on clear, previously-established rules that Acosta could have had a chance to follow.
Acosta was ebullient. The White House was less than thrilled.
Seemingly in response to that loss in court, Sanders and the administration have now — quite suddenly — developed new rules on which they can base future banishments, and the framework ended up ensnaring essentially every reporter in the Press Corps.
The saving grace, however, is that the White House has strategically issued “exemptions” to the reporters and press staffers that they like — go ahead and read that part as “people who don’t criticize Trump, because I certainly did — thereby proving their revocations aren’t arbitrary.
The new rule states that credentialed Press Corps members should have been “in the building 90 of the previous 180 days.” The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank, who first reported this story, is one of the reporters who don’t make the cut — and didn’t get an exemption.
It’s unclear whether this new rule will pass court muster; to apply something retroactively to a time period that has already passed without having warned the journalists in advance that they would lose their credentials if they didn’t adhere to a new rule that wasn’t in effect during the time they would have to have been observing it seems like the kind of thing the judge in the Acosta case might also invalidate.
And of course, it makes no difference because not only is he the President but he also doesn’t care about doing his job, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Trump himself would barely qualify for a press credential under the new rule — all that golf tends to cut into the time he spends in the building.
Featured image is a screen capture.