Jim Acosta has been making national headlines for the past couple weeks, after a heated argument with the President lead to Acosta’s White House press pass being revoked.
Acosta has had a history of tense press conference exchanges with the current administration, dating back to Trump’s 2016 campaign. The President has repeatedly called Acosta’s employer CNN “Fake News,” and alleged unfair and biased treatment of his administration. This tense relationship seemingly came to a head during a press conference, when President Trump refused to answer Jim Acosta’s questions, and ordered him to give up the microphone.
When a young female staffer tried to take the microphone from Acosta, instead of handing it over, he continued to repeat his question. What happened next has been the topic of debate, which would lead to Acosta losing his White House press pass for twelve days.
What the White House Says Happened
On November 7th, the White House officially revoked Jim Acosta’s press credentials. They said they did so because Acosta assaulted a White House intern. When he was arguing with the president, a female staffer tried to take the microphone from him, as is her job. The White House alleged that when she did so, Acosta chopped her arm, and violently pulled away from her. They released a close-up video online to support their claims.
What the Evidence Shows
Here is the problem. The video they uploaded was clearly doctored. The footage had been sped up, in what some call an attempt to increase the appearance of violence. The woman’s arm also appears to change position in the White House’s video, which makes it look like she is shoved away. It’s been shown by multiple Twitter users that the video had been altered.
Kellyanne Conway replied to critics in a TV interview, saying that the video wasn’t altered, it was sped up. She then compared speeding up the video to reviewing slow-motion sports footage to better show what happened.
While Conway’s argument about the word choice echoes her famous “I didn’t lie, I used alternative facts” argument, the crux of the White House’s stance is that they believe the video showed an assault take place, and as such were justified in revoking Acosta’s press credentials indefinitely.
There is one huge hole in this argument, which would help a judge come to a quick decision in a lawsuit. No assault was ever reported. There was no documented injury, and not so much as a restraining order has been served to Acosta.
Because a crime was never reported, the White House would have a tough time trying to prove in court that a crime did occur. CNN filed a suit against the White House, and on Monday, Acosta’s press pass was temporarily returned. A judge granted CNN a temporary restraining order of the White House’s decision to revoke his pass, claiming they had done no due process in their decision to take it away.
What is Going to Happen Next?
While the situation seems resolved for the time being, the Trump administration has introduced some new press conference rules. According to these new rules, each member of the press is allowed one question, and will then have to surrender the microphone to other press members. Follow-up questions will be handed out at discretion of the President. Any breaches of these rules could result in revocation of press privileges.
As of now, Acosta will have his full White House press privileges, but this may be short lived. Acosta’s press pass was returned due to the judge’s decision, but the White House has made clear their intent to revoke it again after the order expires. For the time being, it seems this will end up back in court soon.