November 26, 2018

US - #WeeklyAddress: November 19 - November 25: White House releases new press guidelines after restoring Jim Acosta's press pass

Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of November 19 - November 25:

White House releases new press guidelines after restoring Jim Acosta’s press pass

CNN dropped its lawsuit against the White House on November 19 after White House officials informed the network it would restore Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acostas press pass so long as he abides by a new set of press conference rules. White House reporters have expressed concerns about the White House’s attempts to dictate how they carry out their jobs. For more information, read RSF’s press release on the incident.



President Trump criticizes “Fake 60 Minutes” for reporting “phony story” on family separation

President Donald Trump attacked a “60 Minutes” investigation on November 25 for reporting what he called a “phony story” on child separation at the US-Mexico border. The investigation found the administration’s family separations had been going for longer than previously thought. In the first of two tweets, the president accused the “60 Minutes” investigation of including a photo of “children in jails,” also used by “other Fake Media,” dating back to the Obama administration. According to The Washington Post, Trump was likely referencing a 2014 Associated Press photo that was shared after his policy was first made public. “60 Minutes” did not use this photo. In the second tweet, he wrote that former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had also separated children from their families “because that is policy and law” and proceeded to call the segment “Fake 60 Minutes.” As president, Obama separated families under different circumstances and did not enforce a “zero tolerance” policy. President Trump has since been widely criticized. The program’s executive editor Bill Owens told The Washington Post that “we stand by our story.” The president has frequently referred to news outlets that have criticized him and his administration as “fake.”



Mississippi Senator demanded no audience or press attend Senate debate

Republican Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith demanded there be no audience or outside press at a US Senate debate for the Mississippi runoff election on November 20. According to the Jackson Free Press, Hyde-Smith only wanted the debate moderator, panelists and production team present as she faced off against Democratic candidate Mike Espy for a seat in the Senate. In a public statement, Espy’s communications director said: “The Espy campaign fought for access and transparency for tonight’s debate. Cindy Hyde-Smith has limited access for the press and for the people of Mississippi at every step of her campaign.” Hyde-Smith also requested and was granted other accommodations, to which an anonymous source for the Jackson Free Press alleged that the debate was essentially “rigged for her to win.” Nonetheless, journalists were granted access to the debate and had the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.



The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index after falling 2 places in the last year.



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