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Reporters talk tough, but will they really defy new White House press conference rules?

Reporters talk tough, but will they really defy new White House press conference rules?

Guardian reporter: “Frankly, I don’t think that anyone has agreed to the rules because there’s no reason for the White House to dictate the terms about how reporters do their jobs”

After the White House agreed to give CNN’s Jim Acosta his press “hard pass” back, the White House also rolled out new rules governing the conduct of press conferences.

Nothing in the court decision granting Acosta a TRO addressed the extent to which the White House could promulgate rules, because the court was addressing a situation in which there were not written rules or procedure. It was that lack of process that formed the sole basis for the court’s decision.

The court case came after Jim Acosta refused to yield the floor or the microphone, and physically prevented a White House intern from retrieving the microphone:

The court expressly declined to rule, at that stage of case, whether the press had a First Amendment right to attend press briefings, and the court seemed to suggest otherwise. The transcript (pdf.) of the decision on the TRO suggests that the White House could institute some sort of process to govern the conduct of press conferences:

So because the plaintiffs have shown a likelihood that the government has violated Mr. Acosta’s Fifth Amendment rights under Sherrill, because the type of injury he has suffered is irreparable and because the public interest in the balance of equities favor granting a temporary restraining order, I will grant the application for a — for the temporary restraining order here. I will order the defendants immediately restore Mr. Acosta’s hard pass until further order of the Court or the restraining order expires. And if, at some point after restoring the hard pass, the Government would like to move to vacate the restraining order on the grounds that it has fulfilled its due process obligations, then it may, of course, do so and I will promptly address that and then the remaining bases for the TRO.

I want to emphasize the very limited nature of today’s ruling. In resolving this TRO, I haven’t — because I’ve found that it must be granted on — as to the due process claim, I haven’t had to reach the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claim at all in which they alleged that the government engaged in viewpoint or content discrimination. So I want to make very clear a couple of things. I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated here; I have not determined what legal standard would apply to the First Amendment claim here; I have not determined the specific nature of the First Amendment interest that Sherrill recognizes — or that Sherrill at least doesn’t describe but recognizes, yes; and I haven’t determined what portions of Sherrill, if any, would bind me on those questions.

Here are the new rules. They limit the practice of journalists continuing to ask/shout questions and refusing to yield the floor. Since this is the most common problem at press conferences, it should serve as a warning to people like Acosta who make a name for themselves by trying to take control of the floor.

(1) A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists;

(2) At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will yield the floor;

(3) ‘Yielding the floor’ includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner;

(4) Failure to abide by any of these rules (1)-(3) may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.

Reporters do not like the new rules. At all.

And some of them are talking tough, like Guardian reporter Sabrina Saddiqui appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources. The Hill reports:

A political reporter for The Guardian said Sunday she doesn’t believe White House reporters have agreed to guidelines set out by the White House for future press conferences following its controversial decision to revoke CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s credentials.

“I don’t think that anyone has agreed to the rules because there’s no reason for the White House to dictate the terms about how reporters do their jobs,” Sabrina Siddiqui said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

The White House last week dropped its bid to rescind Acosta’s hard pass following a contentious press conference with the president. Instead, it said it would enforce rules at future press events that limit the number of follow up questions a reporter can ask if they are recognized by President Trump or the communications staff.

“Follow-ups are commonplace, and in fact they serve a very critical importance when you think about the fact that the president might for example try and avoid answering a certain question, or he might answer it in a way that’s misleading. That’s precisely where a good follow up question comes into play,” Siddiqui said.

“So all of this really comes back to the idea that the White House does not want to admit that it got the Jim Acosta situation wrong, and it wants to prolong this feud with the media because they know that’s something the president can use to harden support within his base,” she added.

This all sounds like tough talk, but will a reporter at the next press conference continue to ask/shout questions and/or refuse to yield the floor and/or refuse to give up the microphone like Acosta did?

If so, and if the White House suspends their access to press conferences, they will have a much more difficult time than Acosta legally. They are on notice.

This is the problem with Acosta’s conduct and court case, as I pointed out Acosta got his press pass back, but his media colleagues will pay the price.


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Sabrina has a big mouth for a foreigner, left wing Muslim. maybe she should try her shtick in Tehran or Cairo and see how things go.

    Richard Grant in reply to puhiawa. | November 26, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    TRUMP should require her to wear a full body-bag suit.

    She should also be accompanied by a MALE family member, and she must sit in the back of the room away from Men….also, she is not allowed to drive herself to the White House.

    In addition, she must not make eye contact with any Male. She must say SIR, NO SIR and only speak when spoken to by the Male.

    No make up.

    She is to OBEY at all times or be beaten.

“Freedom of the Press” is a civil right, not limited to corporations and professional journalists. Trump should invite a caravan of citizen reporters, which will displace the corporate and “independent” — of special and peculiar interests — journalists.

    artichoke in reply to n.n. | November 30, 2018 at 12:27 am

    When “freedom … of the press” was written into the Constitution, some people had printing presses and they fulfilled a specific mission of communication. Now everyone has an internet connection, so we all fall under the protection of “freedom of the press”.

    I agree with you 100%. Get some new press people in there. Just do it some day. I wish Trump respected traditional media a bit less. He makes a schtick of complaining, but he doesn’t really touch them.

“I don’t think that anyone has agreed to the rules because there’s no reason for the White House to dictate the terms about how reporters do their jobs,” Sabrina Siddiqui said…

Well, you know, President Trump is literally Hitler, so of course he’s gonna dictate to you, silly rabbit.

It’s cute that she thinks she should have a say in what the rules are.

I foresee others losing their passes. Too many reporters think far too highly of themselves to conduct themselves in a restrained manner.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see little Jimmy Acosta try pushing it first chance he can.

Obama did not allow the press to raise their hands nor shout out questions.
All questions were submitted ahead of time and obama pre selected the questions and reporters ahead of time
Honest to God..and they let obama drone on, and on, and never interrupted him…

I think President Trump should do the same

Actually, I implore him to do this.

Bounce them out and end the press breeding. Rinse and repeat till it takes.

The media overestimates their importance and the importance of these briefings. If Trump cancelled the whole process, no one would care.

It’s just a “gotcha” frenzy by Democrat Operatives anyway.

What a bunch of children. Simple, first rude interaction, Sarah says, “Thank you very much, my other kids need their snack. Good day.”

I still disagree with the judge’s opinion on this, passes like this are a privilege not a “right”, as such privileges are revoked all the time. It is not an infringement on the first Amendment, as he isn’t being stopped from pushing his biases in reports.

I still think all passes of this nature should be revoked and being allowed in to briefings should be a lottery type system, not where certain media are granted special access due to the network they work for.

    The judge didn’t rule that the press has a 1st amendment right to ignore any rules the President might create… yet. Perhaps he will; perhaps another judge will. Supposedly, the first ruling was based on principles. We’ll see how long that holds up once someone gleefully breaks the rules.

      Edward in reply to JBourque. | November 25, 2018 at 11:48 pm

      That’s true, but the Judge did rule he had a property right with attendant due process rights under the 5th Amendment. I think it still is a privilege to have a pass to the White House, not a right guaranteed or protected in any way by the Constitution.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to oldgoat36. | November 25, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    Do away with all hard passes, only issue press passes that are even across the board, no more preferred or reserve seating. Instead of a lottery system I prefer the Battle Royal system.

    Screen them and keep them all in a holding room until everyone who is gonna get in is in the holding room then open the press room and let them fight over the seats. Also broadcast it on C-span.

      MajorWood in reply to Gremlin1974. | November 26, 2018 at 10:35 am

      I remember when a former boss announced cutbacks which included people flying Southwest. Then HE showed up a bit late for his first flight, got a horrible seat, and that policy ended right quick. The best move that Trump can use here is to pit the press against themselves. Your admittance to the room is based on when you get in line, which starts 3 hrs before the conference, and no chat ‘n cuts. Oh, and have a big cistern of coffee in the waiting area, and restroom breaks require going to the back of the line.

Anyone can see the Professional Press is making this story about themselves. THEY are the ones who are dedicated to rooting out scandals, breaking news, and ensuring complete transparency from the White House. Where were these valiant ‘seekers of TRUTH’ during the dismal Obama years? Why have they ignored valid National Security issues, like the Clinton Classified Emails? It seems that the term ‘news story’ had multiple meanings, depending upon just who is in office.

Isn’t the Guardian from our former colonial oppressor taxing without representation ass kicked limp wristed country? Screw ’em.

It slays me these loons think they have any say in establishing rules of conduct. He who occupies/owns the house makes the rules – visitors follow along or get bounced. Simple.

I’ve raised children, in particular toddlers, which is what the White House press corps most closely resembles. The White House *must* enforce the rules they’ve written strictly, quickly, and without loopholes. The first thing a toddler does when given a rule is to test just how far they can ‘push it.’ In this case, the rules are quite plain and can be understood and obeyed by any toddler.

Of course, we are talking about the press…

The Constitution does not require the President to hold press conferences. As noted above… acknowledge what Obama did and follow his practice of previewing questions… if the press complains… blame Obama.

Who cares what these hacks say, think, print, etc.?

We toady to them at our own peril.

* SHRUG * … don’t hold a press conference for a month

Count the number of seats in White House press room … Issue that many press passes each day … How ever many white house accredited reporters there are … Go though list alphabetically … CNN should get a seat about once a month or 6 weeks

And I have never agreed to pay taxes, yet here we are.

Basically, most of these so-called journalists are cowards. They really don’t want to push very hard to see what will happen. The bullies, like Acosta and Ryan, will try it and when they get slapped down, they will scream foul the loudest.

“Nobody has agreed to the rules”

Your agreement isn’t required only your compliance.

The true test will be if the White House actually enforces these rules, if they do they need to be consistent and enforce them evenly.

“there’s no reason for the White House to dictate the terms about how reporters do their jobs”

That’s an odd statement to make. The White House isn’t dictating how they do their jobs, the WH is dictating the rules of decorum during a White House press briefing. Are reporters exempt from rules of decorum? Where in the First Amendment does that exemption lie?

About the only WH reporter who is going to get kicked out is Acosta. The rest stand to gain nothing from being ousted. If they are barred, then they lose their access and as more get barred, they have to share the attention that they gain from being booted. So, don’t look for widespread rule breaking and a mass exodus.

Also, look for Jim Acosta to be found beaten unconscious behind the Willard for causing this ruckus.

Why didn’t Trump just end the press conference when Acosta misbehaved? No judge can specify how long they last and let the other reporters enforce decorum so they can do their jobs.

The idea that a group of “professionals” with access to the most powerful person in the world need a Code of Conduct with explicit rules is degrading, but very appropriate.

Defy away, I know who my money will be on.

“Frankly, I don’t think anyone has agreed to the rules …”.

Yes. So revoke all hard passes until the reporter signs an acknowledgment that the rules will be followed. If they don’t sign, there’re not allowed in.

Take that one before a judge, Mr. Acosta.

    pwaldoch in reply to Redneck Law. | November 28, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Better yet, reissue all the passes and you don’t get a new one until you agree. Or even make the language state that upon acceptance of this pass you agree to the following rules…

    I’m also waiting for the day when Crybabay Acosta holds the mic again and refuses to give it up. I’d LOVE to see one of PDT’s Marine security detail come out to take the mic this time and just watch Acosta just wither in some 230 lb wall of muscle coming up to him to take his mic away. Love even more for old Jimmy to be dumb enough to try to keep it away from said Marine. 😀

Receiving a press pass should be contingent on signing a written agreement to abide by the White House rules of decorum. Refuse to sign — no press pass. Simple.

I am surprised that the reporters haven’t turned on Jim Acosta. His rude actions are what forced the WH to come up with the rules. Now they are all subject to them and if they break the rule they will be bounced.

As others have noted, there is no legal requirement that president hold press conferences–or ever meet with a member of the press. Given what a bunch of lying scum bags they are, the president will do well just to address the nation directly on what he thinks are important issues.

My Solution:

1) Limit the number of “journalist” at any one time to 20 in the room.

2) Each gets one “number” (from 1 to 20) and this is given in the order they show up to the meeting. That is the order questions will be called upon.

3) They ask their ONE question in the order they have their number. They ask one question, then sit down for the President to answer. No follow ups.

4) After each “journalist” has asked their ONE question, then they start over again, and that can be their follow up. 1 through 20, again.

5) Limit the time to ask the question to no more than 10 seconds. That is a LONG time. (Just try it. Think up a question and ask it out-loud. 10 seconds is plenty of time)

6) The “Twenty” are picked from the list of all those “news” agencies that have reporters. One “reporter” each, only from each news agency. This means, over time, each agency gets a reporter in there to ask their (stupid) important question(s).

7) Those that violate the rules are not asked back. (The NEWS AGENCY itself is not asked back) until the entire line up has gone through.

8) There is also assigned seating. (Put Acosta in the back) and you can ONLY stand to ask your 10 sec., single, question. The rest of the time you remain seating.

9) NO SHOUTING. You remain silent at all times. You treat EVERYBODY in the room with respect, even Acosta…….

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Back across the Pond with you!

Next question, please.

You people are guests in someone’s home. Act like it!