CNN reporter barred from open WH press event mirrors 1974 case

A CNN correspondent was barred from entering what was supposed to be an open press event at the White House on Wednesday.

Kaitlan Collins was denied entry to the event due to questions that she asked President Donald Trump earlier in the day. The White House called Collins’ questions “inappropriate.” The questions asked were:

“Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?”

“Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is about to say to the prosecutors?”

“Why is Vladimir Putin not accepting your invitation, Mr. President?”

Collins was summoned to the office of Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, and former Fox News executive, Bill Shine, to address the situation.

Collins says Shine told her she was “disinvited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today” because she “shouted” questions that Shine and WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deemed “inappropriate.”

“I was there to represent all of the networks and therefore asked about the questions of the day along with the other reporters and my colleagues in that room,” Collins said on CNN. “Because of that the White House blocked me from going to an open press event here at the White House that all reporters are allowed to go because they did not like the questions that I asked President Trump about the news of the day.”

On the surface, this appears to be a blatant assault from an administration that has specifically attacked freedom of the press, targeting CNN on many occasions and raising concerns over government censorship.

CNN host of The Situation Room Wolf Blitzer called the decision “shocking” and “unheard of,” although that’s not true.

In a 1974 Hawaii court case, the Mayor of Honolulu Frank F. Fasi attempted to bar Honolulu Star-Bulletin city hall reporter Richard Borreca from entering news conferences where “all media generally are informed of the mayor’s intention to hold a news conference and all are free to attend.”

The ‘all are free to attend’ part mirrors the Trump WH supposed ‘open press event.’

Mayor Fasi argued that Borreca was irresponsible, inaccurate, biased and malicious in reporting on the mayor and city administration, according to District Judge Samuel P. King of Hawaii. Mayor Fasi claimed that Borreca was not treating him fairly and declared Borreca unwelcome at city hall and instructed his Director of Information and Complaint Office, James Lee Loomis, to keep him out.

In today’s situation, we can draw the comparison between Fasi’s Loomis and Trump’s Shine.

Judge King’s statement for the decision included this bit:

“First Amendment freedom of the press includes a limited right of reasonable access to news. This right of access includes a right of access to the public galleries, the press rooms, and the press conferences dealing with government.”

“Fasi’s objections to Borreca’s performance as a reporter can be taken as objections to the Honolulu-Star Bulletin’s approach to city hall news. Requiring a newspaper’s reporter to pass a subjective compatibility test as a condition precedent to the right of that reporter to gather news is no different from requiring a newspaper to submit its proposed news stories for editing as a condition for the right of that newspaper to have a reporter cover the news. Each is a form of censorship.”

So, 1974. A Hawaiian judge rules that it is against the First Amendment of the Constitution to bar certain reporters from open press events. It is an undisguised, unconcealed form of censorship that NO American should support.

“Just because the White House is uncomfortable with a question regarding the news of day doesn’t mean the question isn’t relevant and shouldn’t be asked. This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better.” – statement from CNN

President Trump surely has no requirement to answer the questions asked by Collins or even acknowledge them.

“He is not required to respond in any way to any question put to him by any representative of any news media…and that there is no requirement that he hold any news conferences,” said Judge King in the 1974 ruling.

But, “when criticism transforms into an attempt to use the powers of governmental office and general news conferences to intimidate or to discipline the press or one of its members…a compelling governmental interest…must be shown in order to meet Constitutional standards.”

It’s pretty clear what happened yesterday. The President didn’t like the questions he was asked by Collins so he told his team to disallow her from future events just like Mayor Fasi attempted in Hawaii 1974.


Even Fox News had to stand behind CNN on this.



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