An aggregation of support for CNN’s lawsuit over Jim Acosta’s hard pass was inevitable. What seems surprising is the first news organization to sign up. Fox News president Jay Wallace declared in a statement that his organization would file the first amicus brief to argue in court that the White House had “weaponized” access:
“Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” network president Jay Wallace said in part in a statement.
Fox News, setting aside competitive differences, will file an amicus brief in support of CNN’s lawsuit against the White House, which seeks to reverse an administration decision to suspend chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass.
“Fox News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential,” network president Jay Wallace said in a statement. “We intend to file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court. Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized. While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”
CNN showed its appreciation:
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 14, 2018
Consider this payback for support Fox received eight years ago, when the shoe was on the other foot. The Obama administration tried to lock out Fox from access to the pool and other White House media operations. That effort failed when other media outlets and personalities, notably then-ABC correspondent Jake Tapper, went public with their opposition to the tactics. The Obama White House threw in the towel shortly afterward on their “war on Fox News.”
NBC followed up shortly afterward with a pledge of their own:
An @NBCNews spokesman says the network will be joining an amicus brief supporting CNN in the case.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 14, 2018
Expect many news orgs to make similar declarations today. They can’t let Fox be a leader on press freedom for long, can they?
Will this matter? A united front on this lawsuit will certainly look impressive, at least in terms of public relations. It likely won’t do much in court to significantly impact the decision, not unless CNN’s own attorneys fumble the ball and need the extra help to recover. With Ted Olson as CNN’s lead attorney, that’s not likely to happen. But at least now everyone can take part in the ratings bonanza this lawsuit will bring when it comes to court … regardless of how it turns out. Color me skeptical that it will turn out well for CNN, except to the extent that it goes up the appellate chain and stays alive as a La Résistance story, rather than an example of stupidity on all sides.
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