It’s about the decorum

So the White House is throwing down, Colonel Jessup style: you’re god damn right we’re going to use our power to shut down reporters we don’t like.

CNN and the network’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta have asked a federal judge for an emergency hearing after the White House sent Acosta a letter saying it planned to suspend Acosta’s press pass again, just hours after the same judge ordered the White House to temporarily restore Acosta’s credentials Friday. Unless the judge extends that 14-day order, it will expire at the end of the month.

Dear Jim: We’re gonna take your press pass away again in 11 days because we’re just that authoritarian and proud of it, love Sarah.

CNN’s lawyer asked the judge to issue a preliminary injunction on an expedited schedule in light of the administration’s defiance.

In the letter, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and Bill Shine, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for communications, told Acosta that his behavior at a Nov. 7 news conference “violated the basic standards governing [news conferences], and is, in our preliminary judgment, sufficient factual basis to revoke your hard pass.”

President Trump, the letter makes clear, “is aware of this preliminary decision and concurs.”

That is, Trump told them to do it, no matter how stupid and reckless it is.

[Judge] Kelly’s decision to issue the 14-day temporary restraining order Friday while he considers the merits of the case was grounded mostly in the Fifth Amendment’s due process guarantee. Kelly said the White House has an obligation to afford due process to Acosta before it can revoke or suspend his access, and found that the White House’s decision-making process in this case was “so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me . . . who made the decision.”

CNN’s motion characterized the letter from Sanders and Shine as an “attempt to provide retroactive due process.” Ted Boutrous, an attorney for CNN, told Justice Department lawyers in an email that he found the White House’s letter to be a “disappointing response to the court’s decision and our attempts to resolve the matter amicably.”

Aka “like adults.” It’s so odd, this spectacle of a guy at the pinnacle of power flatly refusing to do what we all learn we have to do in order to function, which is to tame our crudest emotional impulses when we interact with other humans. We all recognize these fits of rage and pageants of vanity, but we also understand that they are repulsive to everyone who is NotSelf. Trump doesn’t even seem to understand that much. I guess it’s unusual to see the combination of lotsa money and complete lack of executive function. Television fame makes the combination possible? I guess?

“More fundamentally, though,” he wrote in the email, “it is further evidence of your clients’ animus towards Mr. Acosta based on his work as CNN’s chief White House correspondent.”

And their total lack of inhibition about putting that animus on display. Where are their inhibitions?

Sanders and Shine gave Acosta the opportunity to contest its “preliminary decision” to again suspend his press pass by 5 p.m. Sunday. In a response from lawyers, Acosta contested the decision, saying that despite the White House’s previous admission that there are no actual written rules for journalists participating in press conferences, Acosta is now being punished “based on a retroactive application of unwritten ‘practices’ among journalists covering the White House.”

This application “of vague, unarticulated standards to a journalist’s access to the White House is not only different from your original explanations, but it is the same sort of due process violation that led the district court to issue a temporary restraining order against you on Friday.”

There are no rules but we gonna punish you for violating the non-existent rules anyway, because we think we can.

3 Responses to “It’s about the decorum”