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Ben Shapiro: ‘No Major Precedent Was Set’ in Ruling on CNN’s Lawsuit Against White House

Michael Morris
By Michael Morris | November 16, 2018 | 2:16 PM EST

Host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Wire Ben Shapiro (Screenshot)

On his daily Facebook Live video podcast “The Ben Shapiro Show” Friday, host and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Wire Ben Shapiro rebuffed the media, saying that “no major precedent was set” in Friday’s ruling on CNN’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s White House.

“No major precedent was set here because in order for a precedent to have been set here, there would have had to have been a ruling saying that you can’t ban anyone from the White House press corps for any reason having to do with any sort of behavior,” said Ben Shapiro. “Alright? That would have been a major precedent. But that’s not what it said.”

Ben Shapiro’s comments came after “Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia granted CNN a temporary restraining order Friday, saying that the White House must return CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass,” reported CNSNews.com. Meanwhile, according to NewsBusters, CNN’s Brian Stelter “reassured Americans on Friday that the integrity of the nation’s institutions had been saved” and weekday morning CNN Newsroom co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto dubbed Judge Kelly’s ruling “a victory” not only “for CNN,” but also “press freedom.”

Shapiro quoted from a piece in The Washington Post titled “Judge hands CNN victory in its bid to restore Jim Acosta’s White House press pass,” during his remarks.

Below is a transcript of Shapiro’s comments from his show on Friday:

“Okay, so, what exactly did the judge rule? Well, what the press are saying that the judge ruled is not actually what the judge ruled.

“So, the implication from CNN is that this is a vindication of Jim Acosta’s First Amendment rights. But actually, the First Amendment issue was not actually touched by the judge, Timothy Kelly, in this case. He granted a temporary restraining order, which is not a final, actual – it’s not actually a final resolution of the issue.

“‘A government lawyer, James Burnham, argued in a hearing before Kelly on Wednesday that the president was within his rights to ban any reporter from the White House at any time, just as he excludes reporters from interviews in the Oval Office. He said Acosta could report on the president “just as effectively” by watching the president on TV or by calling sources within the White House. …

“‘Burnham also explained that Trump’s rationale for Acosta’s ban was his “rudeness” at last week’s news conference … .’

“That drew a rebuttal from CNN’s lawyer ‘who described the ban on the reporter as arbitrary, capricious and unprecedented.’

“Well, there are two issues at play here. Issue number one was: Is it viewpoint discrimination to ban Jim Acosta? Okay? That is, that is question number one. And question number two was: Was this a violation of due process? Meaning, does there have to be some process, some explanation of the rule that was violated in order to remove Jim Acosta’s press pass?

“The judge in this particular case said that due process was violated, but he did not actually, he did not actually get to the First Amendment issue. ‘He said the White House’s decision-making was “so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me … who made the decision.” [and t]he White House’s later written arguments for banning Acosta were belated and weren’t sufficient to satisfy due process, [said Kelly]’

“So, there are people saying today, ‘The White House doesn’t need to have a due process for removing his press pass.’ I think that that’s misstated. Once you give somebody a press pass, there has to be some sort of a process for removing it that has to be fulfilled. It can’t just be, ‘We’re pulling this guy’s press pass for no reason – just because we feel like it.’ That’s not something that really fulfills sort of constitutional muster.

“I sort of agree with the ruling. I even agree with the idea that this could have been construed, as I say, as a viewpoint discrimination issue, but that is not a case that the court actually reached. It was a temporary restraining order. The judge didn’t reach the First Amendment question.

“But CNN[, quoting Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection,] is saying ‘a major precedent was set for the future of a free press.’ It was not. Okay? No major precedent was set. And let me explain that in just one second.

“No major precedent was set here because in order for a precedent to have been set here, there would have had to have been a ruling saying that you can’t ban anyone from the White House press corps for any reason having to do with any sort of behavior. Alright? That would have been a major precedent. But that’s not what it said.

“What they said is, ‘We need to know how you came to this decision. Since we don’t know how you came to this decision, it looks arbitrary and capricious, and therefore, a violation of due process.’

“Again, I don’t think it’s the world’s strongest ruling. I don’t think it’s the world’s weakest ruling. But I don’t think that, again, it’s completely unjustified. I think that a stronger rule—

“And listen, the reason that I’m defending the ruling a little bit here is because there will be a point, at some point in the future – whether it is in four years or whether it is in eight years or whether it is in 12 years – when a Democrat is in the White House again, and that Democrat will be using the precedent set here to ban reporters from the right, from the White House without due process. Somebody gets up and asks Kamala Harris a question, God forbid, she’s the president, and she says, ‘I don’t like that guy get him out.’ And so they ban him. Now, I don’ t like that precedent.

“So, would I rather Jim Acosta making an a-- of himself in the press room than have there be a precedent that the White House can ban whoever it pleases? Yeah, I would. Yeah, I really would – especially because it doesn’t hurt President Trump to have Jim Acosta in there. In fact, it probably helps him. Every time Jim Acosta makes a fool of himself, President Trump looks better.”


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