CNN is getting support from rival Fox News in its legal battle against the White House over the revocation of press credentials for reporter Jim Acosta.
Fox News President Jay Wallace said in a statement Wednesday that his division would file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court that backs the lawsuit filed by CNN against President Trump and other administration officials. The lawsuit was prompted by the decision to suspend Acosta’s White House press pass after a conflict at a news conference last week.
“Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” Wallace said. “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.”
Fox News is among more than a dozen news companies and journalism organizations that plan to file friend-of-court briefs on behalf of CNN, including the Los Angeles Times, NBC News, the Associated Press, USA Today Network, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Gannett Co.
“It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the president and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons,” the entities said in a statement. “Our news organizations support the fundamental constitutional right to question the president, or any president.”
Norman Pearlstine, executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, said in a statement: “The Los Angeles Times supports the effort of CNN and Jim Acosta to have his access to White House press briefings fully restored. We plan to join with the other media organizations in filing an amicus brief in the lawsuit brought by CNN. We are committed to upholding free and fair access for journalists covering the White House.”
CNN’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday, says the suspension of Acosta’s credentials violates the 1st Amendment’s protection of free speech. It also says the way the administration revoked the pass, with no direct notice to Acosta or a written explanation detailing the decision, violated the 5th Amendment’s protection of due process and the federal Administrative Procedure Act.
Lawyers for CNN and the White House faced off on Wednesday before a federal judge in Washington, D.C., over the cable news network’s request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would restore Acosta’s credential immediately. U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly is expected to issue a ruling Thursday.
Responding to the CNN suit, lawyers for the White House said the Trump administration had broad discretion to regulate access by journalists and other members of the public.
The lawsuit escalates a battle between Trump and the AT&T-owned cable news outlet, which has been aggressive in its coverage of him and his administration. Trump frequently accuses CNN of disseminating “fake news” when he is angered by its reporting.
Trump’s criticisms of CNN are often echoed by Fox News prime-time star Sean Hannity, who is the president’s most voluble supporter on the channel.