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Reporters condemn White House decision to bar CNN journalist


Washington: Reporters from many news organisations have expressed support to senior CNN correspondent Jim Acosta after the White House revoked his press pass "until further notice" because of the journalist's combative exchange with President Donald Trump at his post-midterms press conference.

The "hard pass", which speeds up entry to the White House grounds, was suspended by the Trump administration on Wednesday night, CNN reported.

Acosta is CNN's chief White House correspondent. He was trying to re-enter the White House grounds for a live shot on the show "Anderson Cooper 360", when he was stopped by Secret Service officers.

Right-wing websites and pro-Trump commentators alleged that Acosta mistreated a White House intern who tried to take a microphone away from him during the press conference.

Within minutes, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced the suspension, citing Acosta's "inappropriate behaviour".

CNN and several major journalism advocacy groups denounced the White House's move.

On Thursday, the Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents newsrooms across the country, called the revocation "unconscionable".

Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller, a website that harshly criticizes CNN, stood up for Acosta.

"Plenty to criticise Acosta about," Ross wrote, "but he did not 'place his hands' on the intern. It's ridiculous for anyone to suggest he did."

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said Sanders' "false description of the events leading up to it is insulting not only to the nation's journalists, but to its people".

The White House Correspondents' Association called the yanking of Acosta's pass "out of line" and "unacceptable".

"We urge the White House to immediately reverse this weak and misguided action," the association added.

The White House News Photographers Association's President Whitney Shefte issued a statement expressing outrage that Sanders "may have shared a manipulated video".

Senior journalists represented by the association also spoke up.

Hallie Jackson, of NBC, wrote on Twitter that the press corps "should stand up against this".

Peter Baker, of The New York Times tweeted: "This is something I've never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996."

Baker wrote that he believes Trump called on Acosta at the presser because "he wants the confrontation".

In 2015 and 2016, Trump's campaign refused to give press credentials to reporters from several major news outlets, including The Washington Post and BuzzFeed.

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