As someone who spent four years covering the first term of President Bill Clinton as a member of the White House Press corps I can tell you that no presidents likes the gang down the hall from the Oval Office. So, when President Donald Trump had CNN’s Jim Acosta’s White House press credential pulled, it was uncalled for and petty but nothing new.
Our friends at Politico listed a few examples of how some former presidents took aim at the White House press corps and I added a few of my own.
So let’s start with the year 1798, the possibility of war was drawing near, President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts to criminalize his critics’ speech, notably that of newspaper and pamphlet proprietors who opposed him.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, carried on a bitter day to day war with Chicago Tribune publisher Robert R. McCormick. FDR, targeted a reporter who he felt was far too unfair to him by presenting him with a dunce hat and instructing him to sit in the corner. At the close of a 1942 press conference, FDR handed a Nazi Iron Cross to a reporter and asked him to award it to a New York Daily News, White House beat writer who was in attendance and whose work he disliked.
FDR started his own form of Twitter by creating a wildly popular weekly Fire Side Chat, that aired on all of the radio networks. He also took on the biggest media organization at the time William Randolph Hearst. He then added more reporters to follow the president causing even more coverage and grief for FDR.
In 1965 Lyndon Johnson, was watching the NBC Today Show and saw a story that Barbara Walters did on the war in Viet Nam. An angry Johnson, had the White House operator get Walters on the line, and he blasted her for the report, telling her that “if you want a true picture of what is going on them pick the phone and call me.
Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all felt the press was against them. Each in their own way attempted to stifle stories coming out of the White House.
No matter who is the president they never think that the White Press Corp gives them the credit they deserve and always more blame than is warranted. Clearly, let me make it clear that it is not the job of the press to prop up the man who is sitting in the Oval Office.
It is the job of the White House press corps to question, challenge and report the good, the bad and the ugly of the president. More times than not history has proven that the White House press corps has kept the heat on the West Wing, to be honest with the citizens of the United States.
Reporters are not the enemy of the people; they are a daily check on the power that the country needs. As long as journalists, are fair, honest, and most of all accurate they should not be silenced.
Jim Acosta may not be President Donald Trump’s favorite person, but an outstanding writer and reporter who should not be punished.
Lastly, there was a time when President Obama decided not to pull the credentials of Fox News but simply not answer any of their questions. It was CNN, MSNBC and a number of the White House press corps who went to the press office demanding that the Obama Admiration answer Fox News questions both in daily briefings as well as press conferences.
The upshot was that President Obama and his admiration began to answer Fox News questions. So, give Jim Acosta back his credentials and let him do his job.