Earlier on Wednesday, Trump once again railed against media coverage, but this time dangled the prospect of taking away reporters’ credentials.
The president tweeted:
“The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”
The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
Shortly after, the president of the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) Margaret Talev said President Donald Trump’s suggestion to revoke the credentials of reporters because of negative coverage would be “an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment.”
Here is her full statement:
“Some may excuse the president’s inflammatory rhetoric about the media, but just because the president does not like news coverage does not make it fake. A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor. And a president preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment.”
Comment on President Trump remarks on Twitter today about news media coverage. pic.twitter.com/mry3puZXKA
— WHCA (@whca) May 9, 2018
She also added to her comment on CNN saying, “there are certain boundaries that need to be respected, and actually threatening to restrict coverage and prevent people from getting information is one of those lines.”
Talev is accurate, indeed — denying White House press credentials to reporters based on the content of their coverage would violate the First Amendment as the D.C. Circuit made clear many years ago in Sherrill v. Knight. The case is a 1977 decision in which the court ruled that when it came to bonafide journalists covering the White House, that “access [may] not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons,” including the content of their coverage.
Trump’s attacks on the First Amendment undermines Americans’ basic constitutional rights. No matter how much he thinks he is above the law, this president will not take away our freedom of speech.
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images