CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta may have gotten what he wanted this holiday season, but it’s coming with strings attached that he’s not going to like one bit.
After revoking Acosta’s White House press pass, then reinstating a temporary one, the Trump administration has given the reporter a more permanent pass so he can again have access to press conferences with President Trump and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on White House grounds.
Acosta lost his access the day after the midterm elections after he refused to let the next reporter ask questions, manhandled a female intern who tried to get the White House microphone from him and argued with the president instead of simply asking questions.
After a judge ordered the Trump administration to restore Acosta’s access temporarily, they complied. And when his new pass was set to expire and CNN was threatening more legal action, the White House gave him back his hard pass — but along with it came a new set of rules, CBS News reported.
Sanders and Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine explained as simply and clearly as they could what those new rules are and why they’ll now have to impose them. The scorching fire in the letter they sent to Acosta Monday was plainly evident.
“We received a letter from your counsel yesterday responding to our notice letter of November 16, 2018. That letter says, among other things, that ‘there are no so-called ‘widely understood practices’’ governing the conduct of journalists cover the White House,” they wrote. “This statement impresses us as incorrect.”
“Over many years, members of the White House press corps have attended countless press events with the President and other officials without engaging in the behavior you displayed at the November 7, 2018 press conference,” they continued.
Then they laid down the rules, explaining that journalists get to ask just one question each but may be allowed a follow-up. When their turn is over, they must “yield the floor,” which means handing over the microphone so the next reporter can have it. And if reporters break the rules, they can have their press pass suspended or revoked.
Sanders and Shine also warned that “a more elaborate set of rules might be devised” for journalists’ conduct in other parts of the White House or on Air Force One, but “at this time, we have decided not to frame such rules in the hope that professional journalistic norms will suffice to regulate conduct in those places.”
They added that there should continue to be “give-and-take” back and forth between the president and the reporters so that the White House doesn’t have “to devise a lengthy and detailed code of conduct” for events.
“Should you refuse to follow these rules in the future, we will take action in accordance to the rules set forth above,” Sanders and Shine concluded. “The President is aware of this decision and concurs.”
And then they sweetly added: “Happy Thanksgiving.”