WASHINGTON (CN) – The White House suspension of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass after he and President Donald Trump had a heated confrontation during a news conference has once against cast the president's rocky relationship with the press in the spotlight.
Acosta’s “hard pass” -- the badge granting him access to White House grounds -- was revoked hours after he and Trump locked horns during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
The two began sparring after Acosta asked Trump about the caravan of migrants heading from Latin America to the southern U.S. border.
Trump responded by lashing out at Mr. Acosta, saying, “Honestly, I think you should let me run the country — you run CNN.”
Acosta, who was in the front row of the reporters, refused several times to sit down or to return a microphone to a White House intern who sought to retrieve it and instead persisted in trying to ask a follow-up question.
“Put the mic down, Trump said. When Acosta finally did relinquish it, the president called him “a rude, terrible person.”
“You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” Trump said.
On Wednesday night, as Acosta tried to re-enter the White House for a live shot for CNN, a Secret Service officer approached him and asked him to hand over his pass.
Acosta later tweeted that as he handed over the pass, he assured the officer that he didn't blame him for his actions, that "he was only doing what he was told to do."
Later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement accusing Acosta of "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern," calling it "absolutely unacceptable."
Sanders backed her claims by sharing an allegedly doctored InfoWars video that appears to show Acosta striking or pushing away the aide as she approached him.
The clip was first circulated by InfoWars editor Paul Joseph Watson on Twitter.
On Watson’s clip Acosta appears to be dropping his hand down on the aide's arm in a chopping motion. But video actually broadcast during the press conference showed Acosta made no such sharp motion and simply pulled the microphone to his chest.
InfoWars has denied the video was edited and the White House did not return request for comment.
Sanders' statement and the circulation of the video prompted another tweet from Acosta Thursday morning in which the newsman said "Don’t believe the lies coming from the WH. Believe in our freedoms. Thank you all for your support. We won’t back down."
According to Gene Policinski, president of the Freedom Forum Institute in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit that espouses freedom of the press, the removal of Acosta’s pass is concerning and should be, not only for members of the media or Trump’s critics but also for those who support the president.
“Acosta and the rest of the press corps are not self-serving members of the elite,” Policinski said. “While some politicians may pit this as an ‘us-versus-them,’ the reality is the press is only there to serve as a government watchdog.”
The nation’s founders, he said, created the First Amendment so that representatives of the public – in this case, reporters - could attend conferences or meetings on their behalf.