Why allowing governments to single out reporters sets a dangerous precedent

New York Times reporter Melissa Chan outlined in a Twitter thread how authoritarian governments strategically destroy the reputations of journalists they dislike.

  • CNN reporter Jim Acosta has frequently locked horns with President Donald Trump during press briefings.
  • On Wednesday, Acosta and Trump had a standoff that ended with the White House revoking the reporter's press badge.
  • White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders issued a tweet saying Acosta had placed his hands on an intern who tried to take the microphone away from him, a claim which many rebuked.

The White House revoked the press badge of CNN reporter Jim Acosta following a heated exchange with President Donald Trump during a press conference on Wednesday.

At the press conference, Acosta tried to ask the president multiple questions about the migrant caravan and the Russia probe. The president soon grew irritated with Acosta's line of questioning, and a White House intern approached the reporter to take away the microphone.

In a video of the event, Acosta's arm makes contact with the aide's arm as he refuses to cede the microphone.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested in a tweet that Acosta had become aggressive during the standoff.

Later, Sanders tweeted a video of the encounter that highlights what she called "inappropriate behavior." However, the video appears to contain extra frames compared to the original C-SPAN recording, and she's since been criticized for spreading a video that was, seemingly, doctored to exaggerate the severity of the encounter.

Some journalists, even critics of CNN, came out in defense of Acosta following Sanders' suggestion that he became physical with the White House intern.

How governments tactically destroy reporters' reputations

Melissa Chan, a New York Times journalist who in 2012 was expelled from China after her reporting angered government officials, took to Twitter on Thursday morning to outline why she believes journalists should hang together, or else they'll "hang separately."

Chan cautioned that sitting by while an administration destroys the reputation of a particular journalist will set a dangerous precedent for reporters in the future.

Scientists just voted to change the definition of a kilogram

The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.

Greg L via Wikipedia
Surprising Science
  • The new definition of a kilogram is based on a physical constant in quantum physics.
  • Unlike the current definition of a kilogram, this measurement will never change.
  • Scientists also voted to update the definitions of several other measurements in physics.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
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Increased air travel may decrease the chances of a global pandemic

The closer together we get, the argument goes, the healthier we'll be.

Surprising Science
  • The more exposed we are to each other, the less surprising a pathogen will be to our bodies.
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  • Pursuing global health has to be an active choice.
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Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
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