As CNN’s chief media correspondent, Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter has been leading the charge in covering his network’s lawsuit against the Trump administration.
Stelter’s counterpart over at Fox News has take a different approach.
During an appearance on America’s Newsroom Wednesday morning, MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz dismissed the lawsuit, filed on behalf of CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, as little more than a PR stunt.
There’s only one problem, as anchor Bill Hemmer informed him: Fox News is legally backing CNN suit, announcing today that it will file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court on its competitor’s behalf.
“I think this suit is more of a PR effort than a legal one. I don’t know that we’re going to get a profound ruling out of this,” Kurtz told Hemmer.
He went on to mock the suit for casting CNN and its president Jeff Zucker as “kind of champions of the free press” and dismissed the White House’s decision to strip Acosta’s “hard pass” as nothing more than a “strategic error” that distracted from his “constantly interrupting and refusing to give up the microphone” in his combative interaction with the president last week, turning Acosta into “something of a journalistic martyr.”
The bottom seemed to fall out of Kurtz’s argument, however, when Hemmer read aloud the statement from Fox News president Jay Wallace.
“FOX News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential. We intend to file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court,” the statement read. “Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized. While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”
For Kurtz, the “key phrase” in that statement was not Fox News’ definitive support for a “free press” but that the fact that they “don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press.”
“While the president has certainly been very vociferous, in the last week especially in attacking individual journalists as well as Jim Acosta, there are excesses on the media side as well,” Kurtz said. It’s not the Fox News and the other networks filing briefs in support of CNN “particularly approve of Jim Acosta,” he added, Fox and other networks “feel like they’ve got to stand up for their journalistic principle.”
“At the same time, I think CNN is convincing many Trump supporters that not only does it seem to be journalistically opposed to the president, but is not legally fighting them as well,” he concluded.