November 16, 2018

With Acosta back for now, let's just turn off the cameras

Federal Judge Timothy A. Kelly did not rule on the underlying case Friday when he said CNN “journalist” Jim Acosta’s press pass must be returned to him.  In fact, he suggested that he might not agree with CNN’s First Amendment claims.  What he did say was that Acosta’s “due process” rights had been violated in rescinding the pass, so, for now, he gets to keep it.

The judge made the point that Trump is under no obligation to call on Acosta during press briefings.  He characterized his decision as “limited” to the due process aspect.

Still, that is just about the weirdest expansion of the concept of “due process” I’ve ever come across.  This clause is part of the Fifth Amendment, the same amendment that mentions the right against self-incrimination (I could make a joke here about Democrats working in government being all too familiar with that part, but I won’t).  Regarding due process, it says that no one shall be deprived of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  Trump has not even suggested taking Acosta’s life (much as he might like to throttle him sometimes), or his liberty (no one has the “liberty” to just walk into the White House), so the judge must be talking about his property.  Once the press pass was issued to Acosta, did it become his PROPERTY?  I’m not a lawyer, but that notion defies common sense to me.

Anyway, Mr. President, here’s what I hope you’ll do.  Even while this odd ruling is in place, don’t discontinue the press briefings, though you have the right to.  Go ahead with them as usual, except for one thing:  for now, at least, turn off the TV cameras.  As far as I know, there is absolutely no requirement for the President to have a camera feed in the briefing room.  This change will stop most of the grandstanding, so the White House can get down to what is supposed to be the real business of the briefing.  No one will be "denied access"; they'll just be denied what some of them obviously crave more than that --- TV coverage of themselves.

As much as I enjoy seeing the press secretary’s smiling (or, as appropriate, scowling) face in the afternoons as she presides over all the nonsense in that room, I’m willing to make the sacrifice to help save the profession of journalism from itself.

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 CNN ruling

In a stunning and frankly inexplicable ruling, a judge appointed by President Trump granted CNN a temporary restraining order and ordered the White House to reinstate Jim Acosta’s press pass.  Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly made the ruling on Fifth Amendment grounds, claiming that Acosta didn’t receive “due process,” but made no judgment yet on the ridiculous claim that CNN’s First Amendment rights were violated.  

Kelly said the claim that Acosta inappropriately touched the female intern who was trying to do her job in taking his microphone was based on “evidence of questionable accuracy,” by which I assume he means it was caught on video and you can see it with your own eyes.  It sounds as if he swallowed the ridiculous canard that the video was somehow “altered,” as if Industrial Light & Magic made Jim Acosta look like a jackass instead of it being his own doing.

CNN has asked the court for "permanent relief," meaning a ruling that Trump's revocation of Acosta's press pass was unconstitutional, which could be applied as a blanket protection for all reporters from being ejected. 

Even many other journalists have pointed out that what Acosta was doing was not journalism.  He wasn’t asking a question, he was badgering the President with his own, objectively incorrect political screed.  He was monopolizing the press conference and refused to follow protocol by shutting up when his turn was over or relinquishing the microphone to the intern for the next reporter. By taking up other reporters' time, he was actually impeding their right to question the President.  After the ruling, Acosta declared, “Let’s get back to work.”  Yes, a lot of us have been wondering if he would ever get back to the job of being a journalist instead of a grandstanding partisan. 

If you’re going to rule Acosta’s behavior as protected under the First Amendment, then why not declare that every mentally disturbed person in America has a First Amendment right to enter the White House, accost the President, tackle the tour guides and break the furniture and never be thrown out?



Sleazy lawyer Michael Avenatti insists he will be cleared of domestic violence allegations, and tweeted, “Contrary to @FoxNews and others, I have always advocated for due process including with Judge Kavanaugh (we demanded a full and thorough investigation repeatedly). Any claim to the contrary is bogus. Many of these ‘pundits’ don’t even know what legal due process is.”

Admittedly, I’m not a lawyer, but I think I know what it is better than he does.  In fact, I called for extending it to him.  It’s something he needs, since he was arrested…legally.  So have other prominent conservatives, including Sean Hannity and Sen. Lindsay Graham, who was both a private practice attorney and a judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps.

While Avenatti did not call for Judge Kavanaugh to be deprived of the presumption of innocence or the right to defend himself (the most prominent person doing that was Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono), as Brian Anderson of the political research firm The Saguaro Group tweeted, “That’s interesting.  Because during a CNN tape in September – one week *before* Julie Swetnick – you said Trump should ‘pull the nomination’ and ‘move on to the next nominee,’ citing a lie detector test you acknowledged is ‘not admissible in a court of law.’”  I would add that he also called for "a full and thorough investigation" of accusations that never got near the level of proof required for a legitimate police investigation.  

Naturally, Avenatti’s defenders grabbed their scissors and starting splitting hairs.  They fell back on the focus-grouped excuse that it wasn’t a trial, it was a “job interview,” and therefore, due process protections didn’t apply.  Except that if it were a job interview, Kavanaugh could have sued the Democrats for violating their own employment laws by asking him prying questions about his sex life. 

What happened to Judge Kavanaugh might not have been a trial in the literal sense, but there’s no question that his opponents intended it to be a trial in the court of public opinion.  With Americans as the jury, they set out to declare him guilty of being a sexual predator without evidence or conviction, and to sentence him for his crime by destroying his reputation and career. 

Avenatti might claim on a technicality that he wasn’t denying Kavanaugh his legal right to presumption of innocence, but that was only because his opponents never planned to grant him a fair trial at all.  They just went straight to calling him guilty and demanding he step aside.  So Avenetti's argument is that he never did anything legally wrong, just morally reprehensible. 

Interestingly, while Avenatti was attacking conservatives who defended him, his liberal pals were turning on him.  Feminist activist/actress Alyssa Milano called him “totally disgusting” (she just now noticed?) and disavowed him.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Democratic Party canceled a previously-booked speaking appearance by Avenetti in light of the arrest.  If, as he claims, he is innocent, then the fact that he’s not yet been proven guilty in court isn't stopping Democrats from harming his career just because he's been accused.  Does the fact that this is happening outside the court system make that feel any less unjust to him?  

I’ll bet he thinks it’s incredibly unfair that people believe an unproven accusation that he says is false and are already punishing him for it by trying to destroy his career.  Well, welcome to Brett Kanvanaugh’s world.  At least Michael Avenetti will never have to suffer the pain of seeing the good reputation he spent decades building be smeared.  You can’t lose what you never had.



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Comments 1-25 of 36

  • doug in new orleans

    11/19/2018 05:04 PM

    dearest huckabees,

    my gratitude goes out to your funny yet stern ending to every email that you send...

    it's the lord jesus Christ who battles the devil only. for we mere mortals may live in peace.

    Lil Abner Whitewater Preacher's Father.

    Ain't you married her off yet to a Louisiana deplorable skunk ape?


    hahaaa god bless good night and amdg
    'liz wheeler's up next on the stripper pole"

  • Ralph Dannheisser

    11/19/2018 01:21 AM

    Your bias is showing. You are a demagogic defender of the indefensible.

  • Rosemary Keasling

    11/18/2018 05:47 PM

    Have a Press lottery where they all put their press passes in a bowl to be drawn by the press secretary. That way no one particular person’s feelings (Acosta) are hurt if their name isn’t drawn. ??

  • Michael Minic

    11/17/2018 08:43 PM

    Several articles popped up on my social media telling me that Fox News is supporting the reinstatement of Mr. Acosta. (I suppose my first question should be, "Is that true?", but) What's your take on that?

  • James Hardwick

    11/17/2018 06:06 PM

    What is the requirements for a WH press pass? Maybe we all should file for one. I know most of us know more about truth than they do and are more trust worthy than that bunch of jerks. The Judge thinks there is no limit on who should have one.

  • Lee Marcum

    11/17/2018 02:03 PM

    you probably will NOT see this because YAHOO deletes comment may say see 29 comments or 35 comments etc...but will only display maybe 15 at the most and when you try to see more comments the little red circle clicks in and says page is in error or routine maintenance which is code for WE YAHOO edits your readers comments to one page...

  • Amelia Little

    11/17/2018 12:10 PM

    I agree with the acosta thing. No tv cameras (the country functioned at least as well when there was only audio available) and most of all, just don't call on acosta. Or, maybe allow him one--ONE--question a week. And, he can only ask that question ONCE. Just because he and cnn think he is king of the hill, no one else has to. Other reporters would probably love to get the chance to ask their questions without the rudeness of acosta who seems to think he should be the only one who gets to ask questions. Or, at least always be called on first, and to get to repeat his questions when he doesn't like the answer. I'm sure, in his eyes, only HE knows the pertinent questions and what the answers should be. Those other annoying people in the room just interfere with his "job."

  • Sandra Malone

    11/17/2018 10:33 AM

    Great job sitting in for Hannity Friday night! Good to see Sarah Sanders also. It was good seeing you back on Fox.

  • pat maddin

    11/17/2018 09:41 AM

    Great idea, just turn the camera's off and the little posers won't be getting a an audition for CNN at every presser.

  • Karin Kins

    11/17/2018 09:04 AM

    What about when Obama didn’t allow certain reporters to press conferences he had. Why was he allowed to do that.

  • Daniel Burke

    11/17/2018 08:47 AM

    You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about the TV cameras being shut off (removed!) from the press briefings. Ari Fleisher suggested this months ago and the WH should have listened then and they should listen to you now. Don't you have a "in" with the WH Press Secretary? Pass your excellent suggestion along to her personally.

  • Alice Robertson

    11/17/2018 03:15 AM

    Did you get my comment about not letting any of the caravan cross the border?

  • Donna pope

    11/17/2018 01:30 AM

    I love your comments!
    How can we Americans safe guard our country from becoming a South American haven??

  • Don Crumbley

    11/16/2018 11:40 PM

    Enough on Avenetti! Because he craves the tv stage, just dry him up and let him twist in the wind.

  • Rafael A Salaz

    11/16/2018 11:11 PM

    That CNN Reporter Jim Acosta is a disruptive rude abrasive over bearing person. That Judge Timothy J. Kelly has no business interfering in Acosta's behalf. That Judge would not tolerate Acosta's behavior in his court room. This whole thing is a cheap shot at President Trump. And trump is supposed to take this type of disrespect , no questions .

  • Linda Parker

    11/16/2018 10:24 PM

    Me. Huckabee, I have been saddened and dismayed by what I see happening to our country. Thank you for your patriotism and common sense approach to all of the Democrats’ insanity. We appreciate your factual approach without the hysteria! May God bless you and your family. We adore Sarah too. Her qualities shine on camera but I agree with you about turning the cameras off for now

  • Patsy Martin

    11/16/2018 09:45 PM

    I read you column every day. I truly enjoy it. You are most certainly an Arkie, sir. Just saying, because as one Arkie to another, we have our iwn way of talking.

  • Roger L LaFarlette

    11/16/2018 09:34 PM

    I love to see Karma play out on sleaze merchants like Attorney Avenatti. Too bad Dianne Fienstein et ala Senate Judiciary Committee seem to have escaped the consequences of evil behavior but maybe that's too early to call.

  • Anita Mae Barker

    11/16/2018 09:32 PM

    Interesting, head warping times we are living in.
    Thanks, Mike for all your commentaries.
    God bless.

  • Eddie C Jones

    11/16/2018 08:44 PM

    I read them.

  • Janis Tobin

    11/16/2018 08:27 PM

    Trump's administration must come up with procedures to follow for press briefings per court request. It is sad you have to implement "proper behavior" policies for white house briefings. I agree, "Due Process" has nothing to do suspending a WH press pass...unless the perpetrator e.g. Acosta was arrested and sent to jail. I believe Acosta's colleagues hate Acosta's grandstanding (as I could see from the tape of this WH briefing in question). In the future, President Trump should just end the press briefing every time Acosta or anyone else refuses to behave like adults. If this is done a few times, I believe WH journalists will take care of Acosta themselves.

  • Christine Hankins

    11/16/2018 08:23 PM

    Without a camera on the press briefings, the President will be "quoted" as saying anything they want to accuse him of. The camera does give him some proof of what he said. I believe the press briefings should be less frequent, only one reporter from each media entity,each reporter limited to one question, and the questions written before hand so the President could read them and answer them. Period. No theatrics. We are becoming the laughing stock of the world!

  • Ken Wilson

    11/16/2018 08:05 PM

    Mike, when a person is being obnoxious in an establishment be it a bar, grocery store etc. the proprietor has the right to have them removed and barred from returning. What makes the White House any different?

    Ken from Flippin, AR

  • Ken Wilson

    11/16/2018 07:59 PM

    Mike, if someone is being obnoxious in any establishment be it a bar, restaurant, grocery store etc. the proprieter has the right to have them removed. Why is the White House any different.

    Ken from Flippin, AR.

  • Linda Hebert

    11/16/2018 07:17 PM

    RE: CNN Acosta hung with his own rope! "Political Band standing" and "band standing" for it's own sake, is at the heart of our nation's divide. It is the perpetrator's ego ad hoc worldwide, be it verbal, physical, or emotional, political or otherwise! I think that your idea to turn off the TV cameras in the Whitehouse newsroom is a good one! Reporters would be left to "write" their reports themselves. Writing articles is much more cathartic than watching a video! Who knows, one day we might even set a precedence that all politicians return to the "civil art of debate," being required to create arguments based on facts in order to be able to run for office. Just think of how that would educate the public and the politicians!