Supporters of Mr. Trump, though, are likely to seize on the lawsuit as evidence for the president’s claim that news organizations, especially CNN, are biased against him. “CNN sucks!” has been a frequent chant at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The reporter Bob Woodward, speaking at a conference in Florida on Tuesday, said that a lawsuit may play into Mr. Trump’s hands.
Floyd Abrams, the noted First Amendment lawyer, said in an interview on Tuesday that CNN’s legal action was necessary, even as he acknowledged the potential political fallout.
“I can understand the reluctance — at a time when the president is saying, ‘CNN is hostile to me’ — for a lawsuit to be filed with the caption ‘CNN v. Donald Trump,’” Mr. Abrams said. “That said, sometimes a strong response is necessary, both for the institution itself and for the broader cause for which it effectively speaks.”
Mr. Acosta, who has a reputation as a showboat among some of his press corps colleagues, is not the first White House reporter to aggressively question a president in public. One of his predecessors, the ABC correspondent Sam Donaldson, said in a memo filed with CNN’s lawsuit that he knew of no precedent for a journalist’s credentials being yanked and “never would have imagined such action was possible.”
Still, rival networks to CNN have not issued formal statements backing Mr. Acosta. The White House Correspondents’ Association on Tuesday criticized the removal of Mr. Acosta’s credential, but did not specifically address the lawsuit itself.
“Revoking access to the White House complex amounted to disproportionate reaction to the events of last Wednesday,” the group’s president, Olivier Knox of SiriusXM radio, wrote. “The president of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him.”