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EDITORIAL: White House should answer questions, not silence voices

Donald Trump, Jim Acosta

President Donald Trump speaks to CNN journalist Jim Acosta during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Nov. 7 in Washington, D.C. | AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A president who works for the American people does not have the right to exclude a reporter from White House briefings based on the reporter’s viewpoint. No one should lose sight of that as the Trump administration continues its campaign of lying and vilifying the press.

EDITORIAL

On Tuesday, CNN reporter Jim Acosta and the cable news network itself sued President Donald Trump and an assortment of his aides in response to a White House decision last week to suspend Acosta’s White House press pass.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders compounded the disgraceful decision to revoke the pass by falsely accusing Acosta of “placing his hands” on an intern who was trying to take a microphone away from him. Then she tweeted a video of Acosta that was manipulated to make it appear he had struck the intern’s hand, when other video showed it’s clear he didn’t.

In every administration, the public depends on journalists to fairly report what the government is doing. Acosta’s questioning about the migrant caravan particularly annoyed Trump. But that doesn’t give Trump the right to decide which reporters will cover him.

A president ought to possess verbal skills sufficient to parry questions the president deems slanted or unfair. The White House’s retreat into fabrications aimed at Acosta reminds us why we need an aggressive and vigilant press corps determined to get at the facts.

On Friday, Trump mused that he might yank the credentials of additional reporters and sought to deny the video Sanders spread was in any way doctored. On Tuesday, Sanders suggested the flap was really over Acosta’s refusing to yield the microphone.

Instead, Trump and the White House should apologize, a concept they unfortunately find elusive, and restore Acosta’s press pass without interminable legal proceedings.

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Meanwhile, the news media and all citizens should continue to train a meticulous microscope on the administration’s spurious pronouncements.

A government needs to be accountable to its people,  not focused on silencing voices it doesn’t like.

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