Saturday, November 17, 2018

The White House press corps

I'm struck by the fact that David French and Ben Shapiro are siding with CNN over the Acosta kerfuffle. They act like Trump violated Acosta's Constitutional rights. 

This is concerning because it goes to the issue of judicial philosophy. Conservatives typically champion strict constructionism rather than a living Constitution. 

A president can't shut down the press. The press has a right to report on the Executive branch. Has the right to investigate the Executive branch. 

However, there's no Constitutional right to have a White House press corps. There's no Constitutional right for journalists to be stationed at the White House. There's no Constitutional mandate that a president hold press conferences. Or have a press secretary. Those are traditions that developed long after the Constitution was ratified.

There's no Constitutional mandate that a president call upon a particular reporter. There's no Constitutional mandate that a particular reporter from a particular news outlet have access to the White House. Those are traditions that developed long after the Constitution was ratified.

Banning a reporter from the White House grounds isn't a criminal penalty. The only folks who are really entitled to be on White House grounds are White House employees. 

It's disturbing when David French and Ben Shapiro hail the ruling of a judge in favor of Acosta. That's the kind of judicial overreach that conservatives are supposed to oppose. Inventing Constitutional rights that have no basis in the text, logic, or history of the Constitution. Their antipathy towards Trump is skewing their judgment. 

BTW, I've never seen the point of the White House press corps. The press secretary will defend whatever the current policy happens to be, whether the policy is logical, illogical, factual, or demonstrably false. It's a vacuous, predictable game in which reporters pose argumentative questions while the press secretary gives evasive, disingenuous, scripted answers. This is equally true for Democrat or Republic administrations. It's not a productive way to elicit useful information.  


  1. Shapiro is a Never Trump cuck.

  2. As I understand it, the judge ruled favorably concerning Acosta's fifth-amendment rights (due process) and not his first-amendment (free press) rights. Shapiro thinks it would be a bad precedent for a President to throw correspondents out willy nilly. Then, the next Democratic President could do the same to conservative journalists.

    Plus, Shapiro thinks that, on balance, Acosta's roughshod neglect of proper decorum tends to make Trump look good by comparison. So, keep him in there.

    Shapiro has more or less admitted that he was NeverTrump based on legitimate trepidation over whether the Donald would govern as a conservative. Those concerns have been put to rest. He is still critical of Trump from time to time, but most likely will support his re-election.

    1. Due process is about criminal proceedings. Has nothing to do with a right to have a White House pass. That's hardly a requirement for being a journalist.

      It may well be a bad precedent for a President to throw correspondents out willy nilly, but that shouldn't be conflated with a Constitutional right.

  3. I'm no legal scholar, but everyone under the sun is reporting that the ruling concerned the apparent lack of "due process." Plus, the White House got busy writing up proticols for WHPC decorum going forward.

  4. Due process is only relevant if there's a prima facie right to work at the White House.

  5. Perhaps "due process" is not technically accurate.

    The judge ruled in accordance with a 1977 US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia case, Sherrill v. Knight, which found that denial of White House credentials was a sufficiently grave infringement on the freedom of the press that it couldn’t just be done by fiat. It required, at the very least, “notice of the factual bases for denial, an opportunity for the applicant to respond” and “a final written statement of the reasons for denial.”

    Notably, the court prohibited “content-based criteria for press pass issuance.”

  6. What is the "Administrative Procedure Act?" If I admitted the president into my home, he still must respect my admonition for good behavior, or be shown the door. Is that a fair comparison?