Reporter Who Was Suspended for Threatening Trump’s Guests Sues White House

August 16, 2019 Updated: August 16, 2019

Playboy’s White House correspondent, Brian Karem, who had his hard pass suspended earlier this month, has announced his intention to sue the Trump administration on Aug. 16.

“Just received word from the WH—finalized my hard pass suspension for 30 days—according to their letter—part of it because they think I do a bad Rodney Dangerfield impersonation. We will now go to court and sue,” Karem wrote on his Twitter.

Karem, 58, was captured on camera allegedly taunting some of the people President Donald Trump invited to his Social Media Summit and a subsequent announcement on citizenship that they were “a group of people who are eager for demonic possession.” The footage was captured by Jim Hanson, president of the Security Studies Group.

In response, Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide said, “And you’re a journalist, right?”

Karem responded by beckoning Gorka over, saying: “Come on over here and talk to me, brother. We can go outside and have a long conversation.” Karem also told Gorka, an immigrant from Hungary, to “go home.”

Neither Karem, nor Playboy apologized for Karem’s actions.

Karem, who also works as a political analyst for CNN, told his followers on Friday that he got an email informing him his pass had been suspended for 30 days.

“I can and will appeal this decision,” he said.

Playboy said in a statement on Twitter that the suspension by the government was “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,” the publication wrote on Aug. 2.

Gorka subsequently thanked Trump and White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Twitter “on behalf of Americans who’ve had enough of FakeNews punks like @BrianKarem” following the suspension.

Karem’s lawyer Ted Boutrous also released a statement on Aug. 16 regarding the suspension.

“The White House press secretary’s arbitrary decision to suspend Brian Karem’s hard pass press credential violates the First Amendment and due process and is yet another example of this administration’s unconstitutional campaign to punish reporters and press coverage that President Trump doesn’t like. The President and his administration are fostering an atmosphere of hostility and violence towards journalists that cannot be tolerated and they are illegally using the credential process to stifle freedom of the press and to disrupt the flow of vital information to the American people. We intend to seek immediate relief in federal court,” the statement read (pdf).

White House Says Karem Was Rude

In an interview with The Washington Post, Karem said that the letter informing him of the suspension said that the reporter “failed to abide by basic norms of decorum and order” on July 11, when he made the “demonic possession” comment and shouted at Gorka.

Karem said he doesn’t agree with the reasoning, instead accusing the White House of retaliating against the reporter for his “tough” questioning of Trump.

“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 told the newspaper.

“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 added.

This is not the first time the White House suspended the pass of a reporter for inappropriate behavior.

Last year, the White House suspended the press pass of CNN’s Jim Acosta after the reporter pushed away a White House intern who tried to retrieve a microphone from him.

Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan