Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy agreed, “This is what dictators do.”

Sanders’s new press guidelines come six months after CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, who has frequently butted heads with the press secretary during briefings, was temporarily banned from covering the White House following a combative press conference.

Arguing that Acosta’s First Amendment rights had been violated, CNN sought and was granted a court injunction. Federal Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, ruled that Acosta’s right to due process had been breached.

“Now,” wrote Mathew Ingram at the Columbia Journalism Review on Thursday, “the White House has a structure in place that could allow it to remove whoever it wishes to remove. That wouldn’t necessarily override First Amendment protection for press access (which Kelly didn’t rule on), but in the short term it gives the Trump administration new levers with which to control the press corps.”

Milbank noted in his op-ed that he was “not looking for pity.” More important than his press credentials, he wrote, “is that the White House is drastically curtailing access for all journalists. Briefings have been abolished in favor of unscheduled ‘gaggles’ (on the record, but impromptu, and haphazard) in the White House driveway.”

Other political journalists and legal experts also raised alarm about the new rules.

As of Thursday, Sanders has not held a press briefing in 59 days—a record for the White House. Some, including Milbank, noted that access to the White House under the Trump adminisation has had diminished value due to the president and other officials’ propensity for lying about policies.

In light of the administration’s latest attack on the press, Reed Richardson of Mediaite wrote, “The real question becomes: How does the White House press corps adapt to an on-the-ground reporting situation where its independence is increasingly compromised and so much of its coverage…has diminishing relevance?”

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