It looks like Fox News’ Jesse Watters might finally get his wish.
Playboy magazine’s chief White House correspondent Brian Karem said on Friday that the White House had suspended his press credentials for 30 days over an argument with former White House aide Sebastian Gorka in early July.
The White House’s reasoning was that Karem “failed to abide by basic norms of decorum and order,” according to The Washington Post. Karem, however, says that the Trump administration simply doesn’t like his tough questioning of the president. He said his lawyers would appeal the decision on Monday.
Playboy called the move “incredibly concerning.”
“Since 1953, Playboy has fought to protect First Amendment rights, and the fight must continue today,” the magazine tweeted on Friday.
CNN reported, however, that the letter sent to Karem by White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is a “preliminary decision,” with a final decision pending Karem’s official response on Monday. Playboy and Karem retained First Amendment attorney Ted Boutrous, CNN said.
The incident in question occurred three weeks ago in the Rose Garden, when President Donald Trump was addressing his administration’s effort to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. Trump had prompted chaos in the Justice Department after tweeting that the administration would press on with its effort to include the question despite an injunction against it being upheld by the Supreme Court.
Trump’s audience that day in the Rose Garden was filled with right-wing bloggers and Trump sycophants, including the gaseous Gorka, who challenged Karem to “go outside and have a long conversation.”
Gorka shouted at Karem: “You’re a punk! You’re not a journalist! You’re a punk!” Karem responded by telling Gorka to get a job. Someone else in the audience yelled at Karem, “For the record, he’d kick your punk ass.”
Karem believes the suspension of his credentials goes beyond that incident. “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. As a matter of record, they never spoke to me once about it,” he told the Post.
Karem also made headlines a year ago when he called out former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their families and placing them in detention facilities.
“Come on Sarah, you’re a parent! Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do,” Karem said in the exchange. Sanders responded by accusing Karem of seeking TV coverage.
After that happened, Fox News’ Watters called Karem a “wild animal” who should have his press credentials revoked.
Karem isn’t the only journalist punished by the White House for doing a job that Trump doesn’t like. Last November, the White House temporarily suspended CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass. CNN responded by successfully suing Trump and five other administration officials. The attorney now representing Karem is the same one that won that earlier case on behalf of Acosta and CNN.
“This White House once again is arbitrarily enforcing rules with members of the press who take them to task by asking tough questions. That’s what this all about,” Karem told the Post. “It’s an attempt to stifle the free press. It shouldn’t stand, and it won’t.”