Kaylee Pugliese, RWU senior majoring in journalism:
At a Nov. 7 press conference, CNN reporter James Acosta asked President Donald Trump a question about immigrants from Central America traveling to the U.S. border.
“I tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them,” Trump said. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
Even at a surface glance, this statement is an attack on Acosta and, therefore, an attack on the press and the First Amendment. As the leader of the United States, Trump is infringing on the rights of the American people.
Acosta later discovered that the White House had suspended his press credentials until further notice. Acosta has a “hard pass,” which grants him access to White House grounds, but Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suspended those press credentials.
The role of the press is to act as a watchdog for society and to ask pressing, challenging questions. It’s a basic part of the protections and rights of the First Amendment.
Retracting Acosta’s press credentials is unconstitutional. He was simply doing his job as a journalist and holding the president accountable.
Now, there are flaws within the media, such as bias. It’s not supposed to be present, but it does happen. Flaws like this, however, do not provide a valid reason for the President of the United States to attack the media as the “enemy of the people.”
The country has been more than capable of maintaining a free press, even when government officials were in disagreement with something in the media. President Trump should not make himself an exception.
Sanders claimed Acosta put “his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern” during the press conference. But videos show that the aide went under his arm to grab the microphone and he had made a hand gesture downwards while asking his questions.
President Trump and the White House should restore Acosta’s press credentials without delay. In our democracy, the citizens of the United States have a constitutional right to information provided by journalists.
The United States now finds itself in dangerous territory. The rights of the press to challenge the government cannot be threatened. For future journalists such as myself, it is crucial to keep challenging these sort of acts to ensure that democracy does not undergo further attack.
The First Amendment is certainly one of the most important parts of the Constitution. The fact that it’s being threatened by the President puts the nation in more danger than it may seem.
As a young journalist, I would like to reassure the people of the United States that we will not be silenced. Our rights matter.
And we are not going anywhere.