Saudi crown prince tops Time Person of the Year readers’ poll

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pictured here in November, is spearheading a raft of political and economic reforms in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 06 December 2017
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Saudi crown prince tops Time Person of the Year readers’ poll

LONDON: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading Time magazine’s people’s poll for its “Person of the Year 2017” award.
The famous poll — which has been published on an annual basis for 90 years — awards a chosen person who has had “the most influence over the news in the last 12 months.”
By lunchtime on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed had clinched 24 percent of the “people’s vote,” ahead of the magazine’s deadline for submissions by the end of Dec. 4. The official Time Person of the Year will be announced on Dec. 6.
Crown Prince Mohammed has racked up global headlines this year as he spearheads political and economic reform in Saudi Arabia.
Key reforms in Saudi Arabia have included the move to allow women to drive, plans to sell a stake in national oil giant Aramco, restricting the powers of the religious police and a clampdown on corruption that has seen many royals and business people detained.
By securing almost a quarter of the vote, Crown Prince Mohammed is currently 18 percentage points ahead of the nearest contender, the #MeToo campaign, which highlighted sexual harassment cases globally.
Time editors drew up the shortlist of 33 people from diverse fields of activities across the world.
Ultimately the magazine’s editors have the final say in who is deemed Person of the Year — but the reader plays an important role and provides editors with “a window into who the reader thinks most shaped 2017,” according to the magazine.
The Time Person of the Year award has previously honored luminaries including Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin (1993), Gandhi (1930) and Winston Churchill (1940, 1949).
It has also previously seen some controversial choices of winner, such as Joseph Stalin (1942) and Ayatollah Khomeini (1979).
Former US President Barack Obama, who has been included in the shortlist 11 times, is the person who has been cited most often, and was named Person of the Year in both 2008 and 2012.


US media in court showdown over White House access

CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta (L) leaves US District Court after a hearing in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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US media in court showdown over White House access

  • CNN’s suit was backed by a broad coalition of media groups including rival Fox News, which is controlled by Trump ally Rupert Murdoch and often draws praise from the president
  • Trump’s administration initially said Acosta was banned for inappropriately touching a White House female intern as he struggled to hold on to a microphone

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s effort to revoke a CNN reporter’s credentials went to court Wednesday, in what media groups said was a matter of press freedom — while the White House argued it had a broad right to restrict access to the US president.
Lawyers for CNN and the White House argued before US District Judge Timothy Kelly, appointed last year by Trump, on the cable news channel’s request for an order reinstating correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House pass.
In an emergency hearing, CNN’s lawyer Ted Boutrous asked the judge for a temporary order allowing Acosta to get his pass back ahead of a full hearing on the matter.
Boutros argued banning Acosta violated the constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of a free press because it was “based on the viewpoint of Mr. Acosta” and not his behavior.
“They don’t like the reporting” of the CNN White House reporter, the lawyer said.
US Justice Department lawyer James Burnham echoed comments filed in a legal brief earlier in the day for the administration, saying that “there is no First Amendment right to access the White House” and that the rationale behind the decision was that Acosta “disrupted” a news conference last week.
Judge Kelly said he would issue his decision at 3:00 p.m. (2000 GMT) Thursday.
CNN’s suit was backed by a broad coalition of media groups including rival Fox News, which is controlled by Trump ally Rupert Murdoch and often draws praise from the president.
Fox said earlier Wednesday the banning of Acosta raises concerns over press freedom.
“Fox News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential,” the news channel’s president Jay Wallace said in a statement, indicating it would join an amicus brief on supporting CNN.
“Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” he said.
“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.”

Others backing the CNN arguments in court included the Associated Press, Bloomberg, First Look Media Works, Gannett, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, NBC News, The New York Times, Politico, Press Freedom Defense Fund, EW Scripps Company, USA Today and The Washington Post.
“Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy, or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions,” the media groups said in a joint statement ahead of the hearing.
“It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the president and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons.”
The White House said in its legal filing it has “broad discretion” to restrict media access to the president, disputing the argument that its actions violate the constitution.
“The President and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews, or which journalists they acknowledge at press conferences,” said the brief.
The filing by US Justice Department lawyers argued that “the president could choose never to hold another press briefing again and cancel all press passes, without implicating due process protections.”

The White House brief argued there is no imminent harm to CNN or Acosta because he “remains able to practice his profession and report on the White House” and that CNN “has roughly 50 other employees who retain hard passes and who are more than capable of covering the White House complex on CNN’s behalf.”
Acosta, CNN’s chief White House reporter, had his press pass lifted November 7 after a testy exchange with Trump at a White House news conference.
CNN — part of the WarnerMedia division of AT&T — filed suit on Tuesday.
Trump’s administration initially said Acosta was banned for inappropriately touching a White House female intern as he struggled to hold on to a microphone. The White House cited a video which analysts said had been sped up, giving the appearance that Acosta struck the intern’s arm.
Trump later said other journalists might be barred as well if they were not “respectful.”
Free speech activists have warned the case has important implications, and that public officials should not be able to bar access to journalists if they dislike news coverage.
The White House has dismissed CNN’s complaint as “grandstanding” and vowed to “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit.