Well, this won’t please Donald Trump.
CNN has, for the time being anyway, prevailed in its spat with the President, securing a court order that compels the White House to “immediately” restore the access of Jim Acosta, who had his hard pass revoked last week following a contentious exchange with Trump during a wild post-midterm press conference.
On Friday morning, Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the administration to reinstate the pass.
Although I’m reasonably sure nobody needs to be reminded of what sparked this controversy, here’s the video again, just in case:
Acosta was hardly the only reporter targeted by the President last week. In the same press conference, Trump i) variously berated April Ryan, ii) called PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor (who is black) a “racist”, iii) said “I don’t like you either” when NBC’s White House correspondent Peter Alexander tried to defend Acosta, and iv) told a Japanese reporter to “say hello to Shinzo for me”
That spectacle was universally criticized as the most egregious example yet of the administration’s efforts to trample on press freedom and otherwise stamp out dissent.
To justify the revocation of Acosta’s pass, Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a doctored video in an effort to suggest that Acosta had physically assaulted the White House aide who attempted to wrench his microphone away.
CNN promptly sued.
Although today’s ruling is a win for CNN (and also for the free press more generally), this isn’t over. As Susan Hennessey reminds you, it’s “important to keep in mind that a preliminary injunction is not a ruling on the merits, it’s just an initial step based on nature of harm and likelihood of success.” That, in short, means “there’s still a long way to go”, she adds.
The ruling is not a judgement on Acosta’s First Amendment claims. Rather, Judge Kelly based his decision on CNN’s Fifth Amendment claims (i.e., Acosta was not granted the due process legally required to revoke his press credentials).
For now, we’ll leave you with the punchline courtesy of CNN itself:
Kelly was appointed to the bench by Trump last year, and confirmed with bipartisan support in the Senate