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As White House Restores CNN Acosta Access UN of Guterres Ousts Press With No Due Process No Answers

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post

UNITED NATIONS, November 19– Amid the outrage at the Trump White House having moved to suspend the credential and access of CNN's Jim Acosta - which we share, including if video was doctored, see UN Nov 8 video here - after the November 14 well-pleaded First Amendment lawsuit and November 16 Temporary Restraining Order it is worth noting that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 3 July 2018 has critical Inner City Press roughed up by UN Lieutenant Ronald E. Dobbins as it covered the UN Budget Committee. UK Independent with video here.  Now in ending the court case the White House has written to Acosta, "Having received a formal reply from your counsel to our letter of November 16, we have made a final determination in this process: your hard pass is restored." The letter goes on to say that reporters may ask "a single question" at a press conference. Follow-ups will only be permitted upon discretion and reporters must "physically surrender" the microphone when directed. While we doubt this can or will be enforced, at the UN of Guterres the Press has been roughed up and banned 138 days and counting for staking out the UN Budget Committee when it met late, then reheated allegations it has been given no opportuinty to be heard on. On November 19 at noon Inner City Press asked in writing six questions and this: "Now that the Trump Administration has given CNN time (44 hours) to response to their re-suspension, please explain why the UN did not nad has not provided even that amount of time or due process - and immediately provide it, readmitting Inner City Press in the interim to the noon briefing and SG and GA proceedings." Seven hours later, no answer at all. This while Helen Clark, one of the women who ran against Guterres to be SG, chided his UN for banning Inner City Press, see here. Guterres and Dobbins had impunity: the UN has refused to lift (misused) legal immunity even for Dobbins.  Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said in public and private that entry into the UN is a privilege - even though the compound houses the General Assembly, the so called parliament of humanity.  Federal District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly on November 16 ordered the White House to immediately reinstate  Acosta's security pass. At 9 pm on November 16 the White House re-legalized its move to suspend, giving CNN until November 18 to submit a response to be considered. CNN is asking for further court intervention. But note that the UN of Guterres never gave Inner City Press ANY opportunity to respond to USG Alison Smale's bogus "ruling," here, and still hasn't. That is what the UN should do now, as repeatedly demanded. We'll have more on this. The UN of Guterres only gets over with censorship because it is abusing its legal immunity. Inner City Press asked Guterres to lift the immunity but he has not, as he has not for the UN introduced cholera killing 10,000 people in Haiti. This is Guterres' UN, and its enablers. Trump's defense argued that he "and his staff have absolute discretion over which journalists they grant interviews to, as well as over which journalists they acknowledge at
press events. That broad discretion necessarily includes discretion over which journalists receive on-demand access to the White House grounds and special access during White House travel for the purpose of asking questions of the President or his staff. No journalist has a First Amendment right to enter the White House and the President need not survive First Amendment scrutiny whenever he exercises his discretion to deny an individual journalist one of the many hundreds of passes granting on-demand access to the White House complex." So - the argument now made by Trump was made first by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who pontificated elsewhere about freedom of the press. A difference? Guterres is not only banning Inner City Press 133 days from "his" Secretariat, but also the General Assembly and its committees. Could Trump ban Acosta from Congress? From events held in the Capitol? We'll have more on this.

 Guterres had Inner City Press' UN media accreditation, in place for ten years, suspended for weeks and weeks, with Inner City Press having to report on the UN from the sidewalk. CJR here.

  On August 17 Guterres' Global Communicator Alison Smale issued an order withdrawing Inner City Press' accreditation, without any hearing and no appeal. She never answered UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye's question about an appeals process. There is none, and the UN unlike the US government is immune from lawsuit. So it reaches out, via spokes- / hatchetman Stephane Dujarric, to those who question UN censorship, at least if they are from Europe. What does he tell them?

  To give the UN its best chance, Inner City Press on the morning of November 8 emailed questions to Guterres, his Deputy Amina Mohammed, Alison Smale, Dujarric and his Deputy Farhan Haq including: "November 8-2: I am informed that the SG's spokesman has selectively contacted those (from Europe) raising questions about the UN 3 July 2018 Press ouster and ban since, including stating that unnamed UN staff members or officials demand a lifetime ban in order to feel “safe.” Given the lack of due process, please name which officials or safe claim to feel unsafe in order to justify censorship, and the basis for your claims. Also, again, answer UNSR David Kaye's and others' question: what is the appeals process for a unilateral no due process physical ouster and banning by the UN of a journalist?" But seven hour later, no answer to any of the questions.

   So, for now due to the UN's constant threat of retaliation even against those it has unilaterally chosen to reach out to with dirt that cannot stand the light of day, this is a composite:

Dujarric claims that Inner City Press made "diplomats" feel unsafe. But he has yet to provide the name of a single diplomat, other than the false Morocco Mission complaint in USG Alison Smale's 17 August 2018 ban letter.

Dujarric claims that his staff didn't like having the movement reported on. This seems to refer to Inner City Press, once it had no office to use, working on a bench in the Secretariat lobby and noting when spokespeople who refused to even acknowledge formal questions went out to lunch. This is not a basis to ban a journalist for life.

Dujarric goes low and says that unnamed female reporters didn't want to see Inner City Press doing stand-up Periscope broadcasts. But the purpose of these -- filming on the fourth floor was permitted without an escort, Inner City Press was told by Media Accreditation -- was to show EMPTY offices, for example Morocco state media, while Inner City Press had nowhere to work. In fact, Inner City Press went out of its way not to speak with or engage in any way with Dujarric's coterie of pro UN correspondents - that why it left the building after work through the garage, which was later used against it.

  There is more, and we will have more. But it is clear these are pretexts. And even if Antonio "The Censor" Guterres, who believes it is impermissible for a journalist to do a critical stand up on the public sidewalk across two lanes of traffic from the $15 million publicly funded mansion he (sometimes) lives in believes these pretexts, an interim solution was and is clear.

 Simply allow Inner City Press in to go to the noon briefing and asked question - unless that is what they are afraid of - and to cover UNSC stakeouts and Budget Committee meetings. It is pathetic that a UN and Secretary General that be focused on "conflict prevention" can't find a solution other than violent ouster and banning for a critical journalist. We'll have more on this.

  Note that the UN has gone further, putting Inner City Press on a non -public list of people banned from all UN premises for life. Guterres even had his Security get Park East Synagogue head of security Shay Amir try to oust Inner City Press from his speech on tolerance on October 31.

  So while the outrage at the White House action on Acosta grows, as it should (the Free UN Coalition for Access opposes it, like the arrest of journalists in Cameroon), why is the UN given a free pass to rough up and ban a journalist? Is there a right or principle of free press or isn't there? It has been raised - watch this site.


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