Playboy reporter and CNN analyst Brian Karem announced that the White House revoked his press pass for 30 days following his Rose Garden scuffle with President Donald Trump’s former deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, last month.
Karem made the announcement on Twitter Friday evening, writing that he received an email that asserted that he “failed to abide by basic norms of decorum and order” on July 11– the day of the “Rose Garden brawl.”
“Received an email today shortly before 5 p.m. from the WH: as of Monday afternoon my press pass is suspended for 30 days.” He said he “can and will” appeal the decision:
Received an email today shortly before 5 p.m. from the WH: as of Monday afternoon my press pass is suspended for 30 days.
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) August 2, 2019
Yes. I can and will appeal this decision.
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) August 3, 2019
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) August 3, 2019
Suspension of credentialed press by the government is incredibly concerning. We are working with our lawyers to appeal the decision to suspend @briankarem. Since 1953, Playboy has fought to protect First Amendment rights, and the fight must continue today.
— Playboy (@Playboy) August 3, 2019
“They’re claiming [the reason is] something that happened 21 days ago. I’m there every day. If this was an issue, it should’ve been brought to my attention long before now,” Karem said, according to the Washington Post.
“I know what they say the issue is, but that’s not the real issue, or they could’ve talked to me at any point in time prior to now,” he continued. “As a matter of record, they never spoke to me once about it.”
Karem seems to believe the White House is “arbitrarily enforcing rules with members of the press who take them to task by asking tough questions.”
The White House reporter sparred with Gorka in the Rose Garden last month following President Trump’s press conference on the controversial citizenship question. The press conference followed the White House Social Media Summit, which featured a range of conservative media personalities – Joy Villa, James O’Keefe, Mark Dice – who were invited to the event as well. Karem seemed visibly irritated by their presence and could be heard on camera telling his colleagues that the conservative media personalities were “eager for demonic possession.”
Gorka heard Karem’s snide remark and said, “And you’re a journalist, right?”
Karem responded, telling Gorka to “go outside and have a long conversation”– a common way of previewing a physical altercation.
“Hey– come on over here and talk to me, brother. We can go outside and have a long conversation,” Karem said.
“You’re threatening me now in the White House – in the Rose Garden, threatening me in the Rose Garden,” Gorka said as he approached Karem.
“You’re a punk. You’re not a journalist. You’re a punk!” he continued.
“Go home. Go home. Hey Gorka– get a job!” Karem said.
“Hey– just for the record, he’d kick your punk ass,” Jim Hanson, who caught the moment on tape, told Karem:
My $$$ was on Seb as I note pic.twitter.com/yXfJfOKaZT
— Jim Hanson (@Uncle_Jimbo) July 11, 2019
Another video shows O’Keefe and Villa trying to tamp down tensions after the dustup.
As Breitbart News reported:
“I’m on the same team as you. We’re both journalists. We’re both investigative reporters. All I ask is, do your job,” he said, urging Karem to refrain from attacking the character of others trying to do their jobs as well.
Villa stepped in afterward, telling the establishment media that she and others are citizen journalists who need them to stop reporting “fake news.”
Karem put up a fight with Villa, attempting to puff his chest on his status as a “legitimate” journalist while belittling Villa’s “citizen journalist” view.
“When you have a staff of people that verify your facts, then you can call yourself a reporter,” he said. “You have an opinion. Label yourself as an opinion.”
“You should label yourself as an opinion,” Villa shot back.
“I do. And when I write a feature it’s labeled ‘news,’” Karem claimed:
Gorka responded to the altercation on Twitter shortly after.
“Nothing like getting a member of the FAKENEWS challenge you to a fight when you’re both standing in the Rose Garden of the @WhiteHouse.These people are not journalists,” he tweeted. “They’re punks and political saboteurs”:
Nothing like getting a member of the FAKENEWS challenge you to a fight when you’re both standing in the Rose Garden of the @WhiteHouse.
These people are not journalists.
They’re punks and political saboteurs.
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) July 11, 2019
President Trump followed up the next day, writing, “@SebGorka Wins Big, No Contest!”:
@SebGorka Wins Big, No Contest!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019
This is not the first time the White House has suspended a notable media personality’s press pass. It suspended CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s pass last November after he refused to give a microphone back to a female intern.
“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement at the time.
“This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question,” she continued.
After threats of a lawsuit and a federal judge’s decision to have Acosta’s press credentials temporarily reinstated, the White House dropped its efforts:
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) November 19, 2018