×

CNN Turns to Sam Donaldson to Bolster Case for Jim Acosta’s White House Access

WASHINGTON — As it filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s revocation of Jim Acosta’s White House hard pass, CNN turned to a reporter who stood out in his era for the aggressive way in which he posed questions to those in power: ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson.

He signed a sworn declaration in support of Acosta, in which he characterized the White House’s actions as unprecedented.

He also quoted Harry Truman in suggesting that the motivations on the part of Trump and his team were related to the types of questions that Acosta asked.

“President Harry Truman summed up the necessary interplay between a president and the press corps when he advised government officials at every level: ‘If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,'” Donaldson, now 84 and living in New Mexico, said in the statement.

Donaldson and Acosta are kindred spirits in their brazenness toward the job, even as other members of the press corps take far subtler approaches and fret about themselves becoming the story.

During the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was in office, Donaldson stood out among White House reporters for his willingness to pose questions to the President at any opportunity, even if that meant shouting them amid the sound of Marine One’s rotor blades.

“I believed then, and still believe, that it was my duty as a journalist to seize those opportunities,” Donaldson said in his declaration. “I was aggressive in posing questions and pursuing answers because the job of obtaining factual information from and about the public servants I covered is a job (if I did it well) that contributed to holding the government accountable to the citizens of this country.”

But he noted that in his career, he never had his credentials revoked, “nor was there ever even the remote threat to do so by any presidential administration, whether in relation to my conduct at a press conference or for any other reason. White House officials were free to complain to me or my employer about my coverage and occasionally they did. But never was there a move to silence me or demand that I report a story differently than I in my own judgment thought was correct and fair.”

He said he watched the Nov. 7 press conference and found that Acosta’s “conduct and questioning of the President were appropriate and within the norms of professional conduct for journalists generally and for a White House reporter specifically.”

In his declaration, Acosta said without a hard pass, “it is not feasible for me to continue in my current position as chief White House correspondent for CNN.” He also said without it, “my reputation and my future career prospects have all been significantly harmed if not completely devastated. If my credentials are not restored immediately, I highly doubt that I will ever be able to work as a White House correspondent for any news outlet for the rest of my career.”

He also said he now receives “death threats regularly, aimed at my work covering the President. This has frightened both me and my family and required us to take additional security measures in our daily lives.”

More Politics

  • Maxine Waters

    Maxine Waters Reacts to Jussie Smollett Arrest: 'I Would Be Disappointed' if It's a Hoax

    Maxine Waters said she “would be disappointed” if it’s proven that her friend Jussie Smollett staged his own attack. Speaking with Variety‘s Marc Malkin on Thursday at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Awards, the U.S. representative from California said, “If in fact it’s a hoax, of course I would be disappointed.” Smollett faces one felony [...]

  • Roger Stone, longtime advisor to President

    Judge Bars Roger Stone From Talking Publicly About Russia Investigation

    WASHINGTON — Roger Stone was prohibited from commenting any about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — including the charges that he faces. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson placed new restrictions on Stone after he posted a picture of her on Instagram earlier this week that featured a photo of her and of a [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Celebrities, Politicians React to Jussie Smollett Arrest: 'This Story Is Pathetic'

    Following the arrest of Jussie Smollett on Thursday, with the “Empire” star facing charges of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct after allegedly staging an attack, celebrities and politicians were quick to weigh in on social media. President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning, “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Trump Calls Out Jussie Smollett Over 'Racist and Dangerous Comments'

    President Donald Trump weighed in on the arrest of Jussie Smollett Thursday, calling out the actor for “racist and dangerous comments.” The “Empire” actor was taken into police custody Thursday morning on a charge of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct. During a press conference shortly after his arrest, Chicago police said Smollett [...]

  • 60 Minutes" reporter Lara Logan takes

    Lara Logan Says She's Been 'Targeted' for Her Claims of Liberal Media Bias

    Former CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan appeared on “Hannity” Wednesday evening to expand on her recent remarks characterizing the media as “mostly liberal.” “It’s obvious, right, because you get targeted,” she said, explaining her earlier comments that she was committing “professional suicide” by criticizing the media. “It’s the same group of people, they’re already [...]

  • A Man Walks Into the Cnn

    CNN Seeks 'Both Sides' Balance but Spurs Criticism From All Sides (Analysis)

    In a time when news viewers are splintering around partisan leanings, CNN is proving to be a uniter, not a divider: people from both sides of the political aisle are eager to criticize its business decisions and news coverage. The one-time plain vanilla network can’t win for losing as it tries to achieve an elusive [...]

  • J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrathVanity Fair

    J.J. Abrams, Katie McGrath to Host Fundraiser for Kamala Harris

    UPDATED Kamala Harris, continuing to draw support from high-profile Hollywood donors, will headline a fundraiser in Los Angeles next month at the Pacific Palisades home of J.J. Abrams and his wife, producer Katie McGrath. The March 20 event, an evening reception, is priced at $2,800 per person, with those who write and raise $10,000 listed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content