CNN Ruling a Victory for Press Freedom, Knight Institute Says

November 16, 2018

District Court Judge Timothy Kelly today granted CNN and its chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, a temporary restraining order requiring the White House to immediately restore Acosta’s press access while a lawsuit challenging the White House’s banning of Acosta proceeds. The White House revoked Acosta’s press access earlier this week after he repeatedly questioned President Trump’s characterization of a Central American migrant caravan as “an invasion.” In response, CNN and Acosta filed a lawsuit contending that the White House’s revocation violated their First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights.

“This is an important victory for press freedom,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “We need reporters to be able to ask tough questions in these press briefings without having to fear that their access will be revoked as a result. The First Amendment forecloses the White House from selectively revoking access on the basis of a reporter's viewpoint."

More than a dozen news outlets and civil rights organizations have publicly denounced the White House’s retaliation against Acosta for criticizing President Trump. The Knight Institute, in a separate lawsuit, is currently challenging the president’s practice of blocking individuals from his Twitter account in retaliation for criticism.  

“President Trump’s actions are part of a pattern to suppress disfavored speech in public forums,” said Katie Fallow, senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute. “It’s important that the courts understand these individual instances in this broader context.”

About the Knight Institute

The Knight First Amendment Institute is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization established by Columbia University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to defend the freedoms of speech and press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. Its aim is to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.