White House restores CNN reporters pass


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Media captionTrump v Acosta

The White House has restored the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, less than two weeks after withdrawing them over an argument with President Trump during a news conference.

The reversal came days after a judge ordered the administration to reinstate the journalist’s press pass.

Announcing its decision on Monday, the White House also issued “rules governing future press conferences”.

These include allowing only a single question from each journalist.

Follow-up questions, the White House adds in a letter to Mr Acosta, will only be allowed “at the discretion of the president or other White House officials”.

The letter warned that further action against Acosta will be taken unless he follows the new rules.

Mr Trump has threatened to walk out of future press briefings if reporters do not act with “decorum”.

Reacting to Monday’s decision restoring his pass, Acosta said he was looking forward to returning to the White House.

How did the row begin?

During the 8 November news conference, a White House intern tried to take the microphone from Mr Acosta as he attempted to ask the president a follow-up question.

Mr Trump called Acosta “a rude, terrible person” and the reporter was barred from entering the White House a day later.

CNN filed a lawsuit to have Acosta’s pass restored, and was joined by other media organisations in their efforts including conservative-leaning Fox News.

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Jim Acosta lost his White House access after a fiery exchange with President Trump

In a preliminary ruling on Friday, a Washington DC judge said the administration had not provided sufficient justification for the revocation, and Acosta’s constitutional rights outweighed the White House’s right to have an orderly news conference.

Saving face

Analysis, by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

With the tone of a not-angry-just-disappointed parent, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has issued a series of rules she says will outline acceptable reporter conduct.

The rules, of course, are open to interpretation. Which reporter will be the first to try a multipart question? Who gets to determine what constitutes a proper follow-up?

If this is how “decorum” is restored in a White House where the president himself tells journalists they ask “stupid questions”, the holes are big enough to drive a truck through.

Mostly this appears to be a face-saving way for the administration to back down from a legal fight it wasn’t likely to win. The White House made its point, and reporters may think twice before pressing Ms Sanders, or the president, quite as hard with their questions.

For press freedom advocates, this could be a chilling development. For the president’s supporters, who celebrate his “enemy of the people” rhetoric, it’s a welcome first step.

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