The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS -

An in­deco­rous en­counter be­tween pres­i­dent and re­porter con­tin­ues to rat­tle the jour­nal­ism com­mu­nity, a trou­bled place to be­gin with. Pres­i­dent Trump and CNN re­porter Jim Acosta sparred on cam­era dur­ing a White House press con­fer­ence, fol­lowed by charge that Mr. Acosta later be­came phys­i­cal with a White House in­tern — a charge he de­nies. The ac­tion was over in mo­ments — but it was enough to spark caus­tic re­ac­tions, soul-search­ing, com­plaints and cau­tions for hours on end.

Mr. Acosta lost his White House cre­den­tials, and Mr. Trump went on with the busi­ness at hand. But it’s com­pli­cated.

“We want jour­nal­ists to ask ques­tions and seek truth. But Jim Acosta’s en­counter Wed­nes­day at a White House press con­fer­ence was less about ask­ing ques­tions and more about mak­ing state­ments. In do­ing so, the CNN White House re­porter gave Pres­i­dent Trump room to cri­tique Acosta’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism,” say Al Tomkins and Kelly McBride, both me­dia ethics schol­ars at the Poyn­ter In­sti­tute, a Flor­ida-based think tank and jour­nal­ism re­source.

“In this time of dif­fi­cult re­la­tions be­tween the press and the White House, re­porters who op­er­ate above re­proach, while still chal­leng­ing the power of the of­fice, will build cred­i­bil­ity. This is in no way a de­fense of Trump’s sus­pen­sion of Acosta’s White House press cre­den­tials. Rather, it’s a cau­tion to not hand your critic the stick to beat you with,” they ad­vise.

Vet­eran Fox News Chan­nel an­chor­man Chris Wal­lace de­clared that Mr. Acosta had “em­bar­rassed him­self.”

An in­stant po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural mo­ment had been born. The White House Correspondents’ As­so­ci­a­tion con­demned Mr. Acosta’s loss of cre­den­tials. So did the So­ci­ety of Pro­fes­sional Jour­nal­ists.

“Politi­cians deny­ing ac­cess to re­porters as a way to con­trol who cov­ers them is a vi­o­la­tion of the First Amend­ment,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion said — though its of­fi­cial code of ethics also ad­vises that “Eth­i­cal jour­nal­ism treats sources, sub­jects, col­leagues and mem­bers of the pub­lic as hu­man be­ings de­serv­ing of re­spect.”

Me­dia Mat­ters for Amer­ica, a pro­gres­sive me­dia watch­dog, launched a pub­lic pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing that jour­nal­ists “stand in sol­i­dar­ity against Trump’s black­list.” Within hours, close to 700,000 peo­ple had signed on to the pleas, which urged the press to “close ranks and stand up for jour­nal­ism.”

The White House, mean­while, also stood by its charge that Mr. Acosta had touched the in­tern in ques­tion; video footage of the event was sub­ject to much in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

“It’s im­por­tant to show that Jim Acosta did place his hands on this White House staffer. She’s young, she was shaken up, she was in­tim­i­dated by what Jim Acosta did. What we are see­ing is bad be­hav­ior that can­not be tol­er­ated,” White House se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tion ad­viser Mercedes Sch­lapp told Fox Busi­ness Net­work.


The White House press corps vies for a chance to ques­tion Pres­i­dent Trump on Wed­nes­day prior to a spar­ring match be­tween Mr. Trump and CNN re­porter Jim Acosta. The in­ci­dent re­ceived na­tional at­ten­tion.

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