“CNN Tuesday sued the Trump administration to reinstate Jim Acosta’s press credentials to the White House,” reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC)
“CNN in the lawsuit said this… ‘severe and unprecedented punishment is the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting—an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view,” the AJC reports.
The lawsuit itself says, “The Framers of our Constitution embraced a ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.’ N.Y. Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 270 (1964). The President lacks the authority to quash ‘[t]he sort of robust political debate encouraged by the First Amendment’— debate that is bound to produce speech that is critical of those who hold public office.’ Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, 51 (1988). That is why the D.C. Circuit has been clear that ‘the protection afforded newsgathering under the first amendment guarantee of freedom of the press requires that . . . access [to White House press facilities] not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons.’ Sherrill v. Knight, 569 F.2d 124, 129 (D.C. Cir. 1977). And ‘notice . . . of the factual bases for denial [of access to White House press facilities] with an opportunity to rebut is a minimum prerequisite for ensuring that the denial is . . . [not] based on arbitrary or less than compelling reasons.’ Id. at 131. 6.
“Plaintiffs bring this action to enforce this constitutional commitment, restore Acosta’s well-deserved press credentials, and ensure that the press remains free to question the government and to report the business of the nation to the American people.”
The AJC also spoke to Richard Griffiths, president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, who told the paper, ““I hope [CNN] prevails in court. The freedom of the press means open government. Open government is key to understanding our government. Accountability journalism is a big part of that.“
He added, “You cannot selectively choose who covers you. That’s a basic tenet of free, independent journalism.” The newspaper notes that Griffiths used to work at CNN.