CNN's Jim Acosta, left, has gotten his White House press pass back, but rules recently announced by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, right, make it clear that Acosta will have to change his act, or get shut out again. (Shutterstock)
As followers of “As the Acosta Turns” no doubt realize, last week’s plot line revolved around a judge restoring CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass and saying the White House had to establish clear rules of decorum going forward.
So the White House did. And wouldn’t you know it, every single one of them is aimed directly at the grandstander himself.
“This afternoon we have notified Jim Acosta and CNN that his hard pass has been restored,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote in a statement, according to CNBC.
“We have also notified him of certain rules that will govern White House press conferences going forward.”
So, what were they? Well, they are, shall we say, Acosta-centric.
They’re also very short:
1) A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists;
2) At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor;
3) ‘Yielding the floor’ includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner;
4) Failure to abide by any of rules (1)-(3) may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.
Yes, America’s most famous politically active hair product addict has spoiled it for everyone. Happy, Jim?
“We have created these rules with a degree of regret,” Sanders wrote.
“For years, members of the White house press corps have attended countless press events with the President and other officials without engaging in the behavior Mr. Acosta displayed at the November 7, 2018 press conference.
“We would have greatly preferred to continue hosting White House press conference in reliance on a set of understood professional norms, and we believe the overwhelming majority of journalists covering the White House share that preference. But, given the position taken by CNN, we now feel obligated to replace previously shared practices with explicit rules.”
Sanders’ statement also noted that a “more elaborate and comprehensive set of rules might need to be devised” for open environs inside the White House and Air Force One as well as elsewhere. For right now, however, the list remains very Acosta-centric.
As it should. Acosta got his pass pulled for a reason. His behavior was profoundly obnoxious. It violated an unspoken set of norms that had more or less held up over the years, even with personalities that wanted to make the story about themselves.
Acosta is kind of a next-level version of this, a Helen Thomas for the digital age. More power to him, but when he’s refusing to give up the microphone because America needs to hear his rant about caravans without a question anywhere on the horizon, there’s a problem.
So, Acosta is still on notice. The great thing is that we might actually see him behave as a real White House correspondent should.
My guess is that he’s too afraid of losing that time on camera to actually risk breaking the rules and getting confined to some other Washington beat. Then again, Acosta’s gonna Acosta — and the soap opera is far from done, I think.
Let’s hope he doesn’t spoil it for everyone again on the way.