An online petition is surging towards its goal of 350,000 signatures on Thursday as it called on members of the White House Press Association to stand in solidarity against the Trump adminstration's decision to strip credentials from CNN report Jim Acosta.
"In response to a man who treats his Presidency as if it's a series of a particularly bizarre reality-TV show, the entire White House press corps should walk out." —British journalist Jane MerrickPosted on MoveOn.org's platform, but coordinated by the watchdog group Media Matters for America, the petition reads:
If Trump blacklists or bans one of you, the rest of you need to stand up. Instead of ignoring Trump's bad behavior and going about your business, close ranks and stand up for journalism. Don't keep talking about what Trump wants to talk about. Stand up and fight back. Amplify your colleague's inquiry or refuse to engage until he removes that person/outlet from the blacklist.
As of this writing, 333,046 had signed the petition and the number was steadily increasing.
"The White House Press Correspondents Association exists to advance the interests of and protective the White House Press Corps and right now, they freedom of the press is in jeopardy. They need to act," said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, and author of the petition. "Reporters need to make it a matter of policy that if one of their members if blacklisted, that the rest of the White House Press Corps will line up in solidarity—and either refuse to participate in White House press events or only ask questions on behalf of the banned reporter/outlet until the ban is lifted."
According to British political journalist Jane Merrick, in an op-ed posted to CNN on Thursday:
Trump's decision to revoke Acosta's pass to the White House grounds is an outrageous ramping up of his campaign against a questioning, robust, and free media.
In response to a man who treats his Presidency as if it's a series of a particularly bizarre reality-TV show, the entire White House press corps should walk out. Deny him coverage. Take him off the air. Cancel his series. Leave him to rage into Twitter's echo chamber, which is all he deserves.
On Thursday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was under fire for retweeting a doctored video of the incident with Acosta at Wednesday's press briefing.
In a rebuke to the Trump administration over the suspension of Acosta, PEN America on Wednesday night called the decision a "clear attack on the First Amendment."