There’s Hope In Some Places

A couple of weeks ago during a White House press conference, Jim Acosta, who works for CNN asked a question after being called upon by the President.  President Trump doesn’t like CNN and clearly doesn’t like Jim Acosta.

Acosta asked about the caravan of asylum seekers moving north from Central America. Trump responded that it was an “invasion.”  Acosta tried to continue with a follow up and the President responded “That’s enough!”

Acosta changed the subject to the Russia investigation and Trump responded that the entire matter was a “hoax” and then called Acosta a “rude and terrible person.”

His comments continued – CNN should be ashamed to have you represent them; maybe Acosta should be running CNN; it might improve their ratings.

That evening the White House pulled Acosta’s credentials; he was no longer welcome.

CNN sued the White House within days to have Acosta’s credentials restored.  It was joined in the suit by numerous other networks including Fox News, the Administration’s primary megaphone.

Trump probably never heard of Bob Sherrill.  If he had the White House  would have known it would lose in Court.

“Robert Sherrill, a self-described “independent radical” journalist who brought an acerbic, at times polemical, wit to books about political leaders including Lyndon Johnson and Edward Kennedy, to topics such as military judicial abuses and to moneyed interests like Big Oil and the gun industry, died on August 19, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida.  He was 89 years old.”

Robert Sherrill was an outsider by the nature of his work as a Washington correspondent for The Nation. A prolific anti-establishment voice, Sherrill was unafraid to play contrarian to the left or right of the aisle.

“He took the shibboleths of liberalism and exposed them as what he felt they were,” Ralph Nader told The Washington Post when Sherrill died;   “He took liberals and progressives down a peg or two, or 10 pegs or two.”

Hw wrote powerfully about hunger and poverty in America, about systemic flaws with the death penalty, massive defense budgets in peacetime and corporate greed.  His most memorable barbs were reserved for those who held high public office and fell short of ideals.

“The Accidental President” (1967) was his one man assault on President Johnson as “treacherous, dishonest, manic aggressive, petty and spoiled.”  In “The Drugstore Liberal” Mr Sherrill offered a slashing critique of Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s political character.

The book, which appeared as Humphrey was seeking the Presidential nomination in 1968 charged that the candidate had abandoned his liberal beliefs and that he was willing to compromise on civil rights and the Vietnam War to satisfy his ambitions.  He called him a “weeping hawk”(referring to his habit of tearing up) and a “pudgy huckster.”

In 1974 he wrote a cooly dispassionate and much praised Times Magazine story about Senator Edward Kennedy and the discrepancies in his public statements about Chappaquiddick and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in his car that night he drove off of the bridge.

But Sherrill was also an outsider for a more obvious reason: He was denied White House press credentials—and fought in the courts for a decade to obtain access in a case that was to become an important precedent this week.

After receiving credentials to the House and Senate press galleries in 1965—a prerequisite for receiving White House credentials—Sherrill received a letter in 1966 from the U.S. Secret Service denying him access to the grounds. No explanation was given. When he asked why his request for credentials was rejected, the Secret Service replied, “We can’t tell you the reasons.  Lyndon Johnson clearly didn’t want him around.

Thinking that his writing got him in trouble, Sherrill did not try to appease the Johnson administration. After his rejection for credentials his wrote is 1967 book, The Accidental President, and the book that followed in 1968, The Drugstore Liberal; both assaults on President Lyndon B. Johnson and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, respectively. If he was being shut out for political reasons, so be it.

In January 1972, when Sherrill reapplied for White House press credentials, he was again denied without explanation. Richard Nixon didn’t want him around either.  That’s when the American Civil Liberties Union took his case to federal court. With the ACLU’s help, Sherrill sued the Secret Service for violating his First and Fifth Amendment rights.

By the time a D.C. circuit-court judge ruled in his case in 1977, it had been 11 years after his credentials were originally denied.

When Donald Trump clashed with Jim Acosta at his post-midterms news conference on Wednesday—and later revoked his press credentials—he most likely knew nothing about the precedent set by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Robert Sherrill’s case—precedent, experts said, that put the law squarely on Acosta’s side.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders followed up by lying and showing an obviously doctored video of Acosta “putting his hands” on an intern who was trying to remove the microphone from Acosta’s hands.  It took about ten minutes to discover the video was a fraud and originally posted by Paul Joseph Watson, a British conspiracy theorist associated with the fake-news website Infowars.

The White House Correspondents’ Association denounced “the Trump Administration’s decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship.” The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press wrote, “This is clearly inappropriate.”

Journalists and a number of politicians shared support for Acosta, some calling for solidarity on both sides of the aisle and among the press corps.

Many Republicans and conservative journalists did stand up for Acosta.

“The media is not the enemy of the people,” the former Florida Governor Jeb Bush tweeted. “The freedom of the press is protected by the Constitution. Presidents never enjoy pointed questions from the press, but President Trump should respect their right to ask them and respect Americans enough to answer them.”

Among those in media and politics, the widespread consensus was an obvious one: This was not about safety and security; this was not about an “assault.” Acosta was punished for the way he went about his reporting.

“The White House Correspondents Association, the White House, and NN should be sitting down together and separately to address this,” said Frank Sesno, the director of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs.   Sesno is a former CNN Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent as well. “If there are professional concerns that the White House has about Jim Acosta or anyone else, they should express that professionally. They should be talking about that openly and there should be an effort to determine what, if anything, needs to change. The response is not engaging the Secret Service to pull someone’s credentials.”

The D.C. circuit court ruled in Sherrill’s favor in 1977. While the court did not demand that the Secret Service issue him a press credential, it did set forth a series of new, transparent steps to ensure that no reporter’s First Amendment rights were violated.

This morning the D.C. Court, presided over by a Judge recently appointed by Donald Trump ruled in Acosta’s favor – the White House was ordered to return his credentials forthwith.

On another front, here in Florida, despite calls by our Republican Governor to stop the count because the election was being stolen by Democrats and ripe with fraud, Ron DeSantis the Republican won the recount for Governor over Democrat Andrew Gillum by some 35,000 votes out of over 8.2 million cast.  The recount gave Andrew Gillum just one – that’s ONE additional vote over the original tally.  DeSantis won with 49.59% vs. 49.18%

So much for fraud.

Approximately 100,000 votes in Florida were cast for 3rd parties – 1.23%.  These votes, spread over 4 candidates no one ever heard of or from, were essentially thrown away; just as if the voter had not cast a ballot.  If you were one of these voters and your second choice lost you have no one to blame but yourself.

Our Governor Rick Scott leads his Democratic opponent Senator Bill Nelson by some 15,000 votes after the machine recount but that is within 0.25 percent; a level which mandates a hand recount by law.

I personally believe that when all the votes are counted and recounted Governor Rick Scott will win by the tiniest of margins.  Here again, I am certain the votes cast for third parties would have made a difference – but didn’t.

Finally, there has been much spoken about “stealing the election” from the mouths of Florida Republicans and the President worried they would lose a recount;  that “liberal operatives” were “stealing the election.”  The Republican Governor of Arizona provided a much needed example for our local pols.

The Arizona Senate race was in a dead heat with the GOP candidate having a slight lead on election night, triggering a recount, including all the absentee ballots.

The Governor of Arizona stated his position:  Count all of the legally cast votes!  The GOP lost that recount but the Governor of Arizona never mentioned the word fraud.  He was not willing to undermine the electoral process for political gain.  Similarly, Arizona Republicans distanced themselves from Trump’s comments about election fraud.

We could learn something from Arizona.

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About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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4 Responses to There’s Hope In Some Places

  1. beetleypete says:

    I sometimes watch those Presidential Press questions, and watched that one. I think the journalist did a great job of exposing someone who ended up looking like a school-playground bully who had run out of options.
    I have a close friend who always works counting votes on election nights. She assures me that the process here is closely overseen, and definitely fair and transparent. I’m not so sure…
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GP Cox says:

    I thought having a press pass was a privilege. CNN could simply put in another “reporter”, they’re going to report whatever they want anyway. They simply want to create a fuss.

    Like

    • toritto says:

      Here again GP w e must agree to disagree. This President simply wants soft ball questions and apparently the Court agreed. I mean, the guy raised his hand and the President called on him. He simply didn’t like the question. He is now going establish “codes of behavior” for “his” press conferences. Perhaps we should all bow when he enters?
      🙂

      Best regards.

      Like

  3. Victor Romanelli says:

    The importance of a free press cannot be overstated. In my view I consider it like a 4th branch of gov’t. with a responsibility to bring transparency and another form of check and balance, especially when all three branches are being dominated by one party. Ideally it should be both critical and without bias, even though that doesn’t seem to be the case. Their role especially when it comes to cable news seems to have gone from keeping the public well informed to fulfilling viewers with confirmation bias. Sometimes you can not only see it in what is reported but also in what doesn’t get reported. Simply switch between CNN and Fox. I suppose it’s human nature to want to hear your favorite flavor of news, even if its unhealthy like fast food. At any rate, the President needs to be held accountable to the people and fielding the hardball questions comes with the job. If he can’t take the heat he needs to get out of the kitchen.

    Liked by 1 person

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