Obama appointee U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras on Tuesday ordered the White House to restore the hard pass of Playboy reporter Brian Karem. Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham had revoked the abrasive journalist’s press pass after a raucous episode in the Rose Garden involving a confrontation with former administration official Sebastian Gorka. Karem immediately sued to appeal his suspension.
Contreras’ written opinion granting a preliminary injunction against the White House’s 30-day suspension of Karem’s credentials seemed to indicate the judge did not understand the meaning of the term “professionalism,” and that expectations for good behavior from the press were too vague.
“White House events appear to vary greatly in character,” Contreras wrote. “Thus, without any contextual guideposts, ‘professionalism,’ standing alone, remains too murky to provide fair notice here.”
“We disagree with the decision of the district court to issue an injunction that essentially gives free rein to members of the press to engage in unprofessional, disruptive conduct at the White House,” Grisham responded later in a statement.
“Mr. Karem’s conduct, including threatening to escalate a verbal confrontation into a physical one to the point that a Secret Service agent intervened, clearly breached well-understood norms of professional conduct,” she said.
The July 11 Rose Garden incident began when Karem was heard calling President Trump “that f*cking moron” as Trump walked away from the podium after addressing attendees at a conservative social media summit. Karem then spoke out telling the crowd that they were all “eager for demonic possession.”
Gorka angrily approached Karem calling him a “punk” after the reporter loudly challenged him to go out and fight. Karem then called out to the legal immigrant Gorka to “go home.”
Karem said everyone there was “eager for demonic possession” and then challenged Gorka to a fight. Stop trying to play the victim. It’s not going to work. pic.twitter.com/xqVCgW6Gf7
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) July 12, 2019
Indicative of the fake-news coverage of the incident … CNN’s Jim Acosta tweeted, “WH officials invited Trump’s social media allies to sit in the Rose Garden. But after the event was over, West Wing aides did nothing when those social media figures began to verbally abuse reporters who were trying to do their jobs. A good snapshot of how press is treated by WH.”
Karem’s attorney, Theodore Boutros, previously represented Acosta and successfully forced the belligerent CNN reporter’s pass to be reinstated after his suspension last year following an incident in which he refused to give up the microphone during a Trump press conference.
In his suit against the administration, Karem claimed that the White House violated his First Amendment rights as well as denying him due process.
“Karem has, at this early stage of the proceedings, shown that he is likely to succeed on this due process claim,” the liberal judge stated, “because the present record indicates that Grisham failed to provide fair notice of the fact that a hard pass could be suspended under these circumstances. Meanwhile, Karem has shown that even the temporary suspension of his pass inflicts irreparable harm on his First Amendment rights. The Court therefore grants Karem’s motion for a preliminary injunction and orders that his hard pass be restored while this lawsuit is ongoing.”
The decision is likely to be appealed, but at least for the time being, Karem’s suspension is on hold.
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