One of the first things we learn in Journalism is the importance of ethical behaviors. Most of it may seem self-explanatory, and yet it is questioned and, in some cases, violated daily. It is constantly in question. Especially in modern times, with a President who seems to be at war with mass media, the question of what the limits are of a Journalist and where the lines between ethics and control are drawn is persistent. Recently, Jim Acosta of CNN had his press pass to the White House revoked after a press conference in which he had a confrontation of words with President Donald Trump. This brought into question the ethics of journalism, and four new rules to White House press conferences, with more likely to come.
In response to Acosta’s press pass being revoked, CNN placed a lawsuit demanding Acosta’s pass be reinstated. CNN claimed their lawsuit was due to a, “culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the content of their reporting-an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view” (Tompkins, 2018). So, ethics came into question when Acosta continued to ask questions as the President continued to argue back with him. Some argue that CNN has a blatant bias against Donald Trump, and this left objectivity in the dust during interviews and press conferences.
The idea of political bias in Journalism is a dangerous one. “It reduces the quality of journalism, and it fosters distrust among readers and viewers. This is bad for democracy” (Carney, 2015). One of the first tools we learn as Journalism students is that objectivity and lack of bias are the first steps to keeping an open mind in a story. In this case, there are many on both sides of the debate. Some claim that Acosta went too far with his questioning and persistence, also citing CNN’s alleged biases against Trump’s administration. Others claim the opposite, that, Acosta was maintaining his first amendment rights to free speech, and that the administration was out of line constitutionally to revoke his press pass (which was just today returned to him).
The idea of ethical behavior also remains in citizen journalism in this case. Infowars (a far-right conspiracy “news” site), released a video which was “doctored” allegedly showing Acosta assaulting a White House intern. In this case, Infowars and Sarah Sanders, who shared the video condemning Acosta, both were guilty of lack of ethical thinking. There is a debate as to if Sanders and the Trump Administration knew the video was “doctored.”
In conclusion, the case of Acosta having his press pass removed displayed debate of Journalism ethics on both sides of the fence. An initial fact we are given is the importance of objectivity and lack of biases, which both sides of this story are accused of violating. Perspectives clash and there is much difficulty in deciphering the situation. This case still continues, only being resolved today as Acosta’s press pass has been restored and the White House hasn’t chosen, thus far, to attempt and re-revoke his pass.
Carney, T. (2015). Liberal News Media Bias Has a Serious Effect. Retrieved from:
Tompkins, A. (2018). CNN and Jim Acosta lawsuit is about free speech, free press and due
process. Retrieved from: https://www.poynter.org/news/cnn-and-jim-acosta-lawsuit-about-free-speech-free-press-and-due-process