WASHINGTON: Why do certain people get press passes to the White House and others don’t? Do only certain “special” people get to exercise their freedom of press rights? On Fox News, A.B. Stoddard said she thought it was wrong that a “major” news outlet should ever be denied access to the White House and President. Why? Does CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS reporters have the right to demand access to the White House.
President Trump appointee, Federal Judge Timothy Kelly says the White House must give the credential, albeit temporarily, back to Acosta. Furthermore, that the CNN’s chief White House correspondent should be given a chance to redeem himself.
However, how is denying an invitation to attend a political function compare to denying a right? Moreover, by giving Acosta or any of the others in the room access, the ability to demand access are they receiving some right routinely denied to other Americans? What about journalists from publications like CommDigiNews. Do we not all have rights equal to the rights demanded by CNN and Jim Acosta?
Presidential press conferences are not a privilege by law.
A press conference is at the will of the President. A courtesy offered in order to provide information to the press. In 1913 Woodrow Wilson, the story goes, was the first president to invite the press into the White House. He encountered two gentlemen outside the White House, and he invited them in, out of the pouring rain in order to answer their questions.
The first press conference that was taped was by President Eisenhower in 1955. The first live T.V. press conference was in 1961 by President Kennedy.
“I regard it as rather necessary to the carrying on of our Republican institution that the people should have a fairly accurate report of what the president is trying to do, and it is for that purpose, of course, that those (sic) intimate conferences are held.” Calvin Coolidge.
Note the word intimate, Mr. Acosta.
When the residents run the asylum
Over time the number of reporters grew, and with space limited the number of invitations became limited. Of these, some became permanent invitations or passes. Hard passes. Which means access on demand. However, none were ever deemed “rights” because an invitation is not a right.
Because anyone can apply to attend a press conference. However, there is no guarantee that they will be given access. Because it is not a right. It is a privilege.
The Press as proxy of the people
The people do like to hear, publicly from their officials, elected or not, and the press had worked reasonably well as a proxy for the people. Press conferences have taken place in various areas of the White House. However, the White House, the people’s house, is also the home of the current president. Not some reporter’s public park or playground.
Firm direct questions are fine since the attendees have been invited, but rudeness as a guest in anyone’s home is, to many of us, still a shabby exercise.
Moreover, it matters not that any, or many, of the reporter friends, suborn boorish conduct. When Acosta, or any other invited press official acts boorish or rudely to the President, they are representing the people of America who support the President and find the onslaught of repetition (Russia, Stormy Daniels, Robert Mueller, etc.) disgraceful.
The reporter making themselves the story
In the relatively brief history of these conferences, there has been, on occasion, the lout who attempts to play the fictional Torchy Blane, the hard-hitting reporter who asks the “tough questions,” and gets the big story.
The press conference has evolved since the Nixon administration with presidents of both parties structuring it for the best public relations and political advantage.
Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama were both masters at it.
So when silly little men like Jim Acosta stand before another man as a guest in his home and acts like Rasputin, the mad monk, he has no one to blame but himself if he is asked to leave and not come back.
As for A.B Stoddard, I don’t know if she has ever been invited to a Presidential press conference, but perhaps she could read up a bit from Emily Post’s advice on basic etiquette.
If not she may be denied her “rights” as well