Don't Get Assaulted By Nazis Or You Might Lose Your White House Press Pass
screengrab the Washington Post's YouTube of the BIG FIGHT

It's a day that ends in "y," and the Trump regime is flouting its disdain for the press, the US Constitution, and the American people. So Playboy White House Correspondent, CNN analyst, and general badass Brian Karem is suing.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in DC federal court, Karem alleges that Our Dear Leader, along with Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, unconstitutionally took away Karem's White House press pass. And let me tell you, Karem's complaint and accompanying documents are a thing of beauty, with lines like this one:

As part of his sustained and unprecedented attack on freedom of press, President Donald J. Trump and his administration have yet again violated the fundamental due process and First Amendment rights of a White House Correspondent by arbitrarily and without fair notice or compelling reason punished him by depriving him of the liberty and property interests that inhere in his "hard pass" press credential that is essential to covering the presidency.
So, how did this all start? Back in July, Trump had a cute little fascist "social media summit" at the White House with a bunch of right-wing nutjobs to complain about journalists and whine about losing Twitter followers. Immediately following, Trump and his Twitter friends went to the Rose Garden so Trump could completely cave on the Census before a live studio audience. After that sad event, Nazi and former White House official Sebastian Gorka ran up to Karem to accost him and scream in his face.

Naturally, there were no consequences for the Nazi. The journalist, however, must be punished. #2019.

Honest to Frigg, Karem's Rodney Dangerfield impersonation is going to be an issue in this case.

Despite multiple videos of the incident, Karem and the White House are at odds about what actually happened on July 11.

According to Karem:

Gorka escalated events. He wanted the fight. I just wanted to talk. I thought he'd be a fascinating guy to talk to for my podcast and still do. I've interviewed Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, Republican communications consultant Alice Stewart, former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, comedian Carl Reiner, and reporter Sam Donaldson, so why not Gorka?
According to the White House, Karem "failed to abide by ... basic norms ensuring decorum and order," "openly insulted the President's invited guests," and "verbally accosted Mr. Gorka in an apparent attempt to escalate your verbal taunts to a physical confrontation." They believe "Mr. Karem's conduct, taken as a whole, was unacceptable and disruptive, and requires a response to ensure that it does not happen again."

For a look at what actually transpired on that fateful July day, let's go to the tape!

Here's Karem right before Gorka ran up to him:

Journalist Brian Karem picks a fight with Sebastian

And here's Herr Gorka absolutely losing his shit:

Gorka to Karem: 'You're not a journalist, you're a punk'

So basically, Karem was joking around and made a "demonic possession" crack, which apparently is a throw-back to Rodney Dangerfield. Gorka decided to go all Nazi on him and scream and call him a "punk" and not a real journalist. Karem reacted calmly. And now, Karem's press pass is revoked.

And yes. That all happened in the White House Rose Garden. Because fuck our lives.

Lawsplainer time!

If you're thinking this all sounds a little familiar, you're not wrong. Last year, a Trump-appointed federal judge ruled for CNN's Jim Acosta in CNN v. Trump, after the White House yanked his press credentials. After CNN won a quick temporary restraining order, the White House agreed to reinstate Acosta's pass and the suit was dropped. Karem is represented by #AppellateTwitter's own Ted Boutrous of Gibson Dunn, who also represented Acosta in his suit over press credentials.

Both Acosta and Karem rely on Sherrill v. Knight, a 1977 case from the DC Circuit, to support their arguments. That case concerned "Robert Sherrill, the cantankerous Washington editor of The Nation, who was denied a press pass to the White House even though he had congressional press credentials." In Sherrill, the federal appellate court for DC held that it was unconstitutional for the White House to deny Sherrill's request without clearly articulated rules and reasoning, saying:

In our view, the procedural requirements of notice of the factual bases for denial, an opportunity for the applicant to respond to these, and a final written statement of the reasons for denial are compelled by the foregoing determination that the interest of a bona fide Washington correspondent in obtaining a White House press pass is protected by the First Amendment.

The court also noted that press access to the White House implicates the First Amendment rights of all Americans, not just the First Amendment rights of the affected reporter. After all,

[N]ot only newsmen and the publications for which they write, but also the public at large have an interest protected by the first amendment in assuring that restrictions on newsgathering be no more arduous than necessary, and that individual newsmen not be arbitrarily excluded from sources of information [...]

Given these important First Amendment rights implicated by refusal to grant White House press passes to bona fide Washington journalists, such refusal must be based on a compelling governmental interest.

The court didn't every person who wants access to the White House press room must be given access -- that would be a LOT of people. Instead it set out standards that the White House has to follow to stay on the right side of the Constitution.

We think that notice to the unsuccessful applicant of the factual bases for denial with an opportunity to rebut is a minimum prerequisite for ensuring that the denial is indeed in furtherance of Presidential protection, rather than based on arbitrary or less than compelling reasons. The requirement of a final statement of denial and the reasons therefore is necessary in order to assure that the agency has neither taken additional, undisclosed information into account, nor responded irrationally to matters put forward by way of rebuttal or explanation. This requirement also will avoid situations such as occurred in the case before us, where an applicant does not receive official written notification of his status until more than five years after the status decision is made.

The ruling in the Acosta suit was based on the fact that the White House didn't follow these rules, but rather just took away Acosta's pass and then lied about their reasoning. The judge's order was based on the constitutionally required procedure, not the First Amendment.

The White House kinda sorta tried to follow these requirements with Karem, indicating they're gearing up for a bigger fight in Karem v. Trump than went down in CNN v. Trump. Grisham waited three weeks to notify Karem of her "preliminary decision" to revoke his pass and gave him a day to respond. There have been discussions between the White House counsel and Karem's attorneys. In an email to Politico, Grisham said she stood by her decision.

The purpose of a hard pass is to provide access to the White House so members of the press can report and ask questions of officials who are taking questions. Mr. Karem did not use the access granted to him for journalistic purposes — in fact, the President had left the event. Instead, he used his press pass to insult invited guests and make comments that threatened to escalate into a physical confrontation to the point that the Secret Service intervened.

This is, frankly, bullshit. Donald Trump hates Brian Karem for calling out his bullshit. (Here is but one example of Karem's wonderful work, as covered here on the Wonkette.) Karem's "demonic possession" jib was met with laughter by the crowd. Even when the Nazi got in his face, he reacted calmly. This is an obvious attempt by a "president" who refers to the press as "the enemy of the people" to punish journalists for unflattering coverage.

As for Grisham's letter explaining her "reasoning" for Karem's suspension, Erik Wemple over at the Washington Postdescribed it best:

Historians will feast on the letter's 13 pages of biometric analysis and detailed breakdown of comedic timing surrounding the events of July 11. Many of the passages, in fact, read as if they were ripped off from the hard drive of "Saturday Night Live."

I wish I could say this Trump fuckery is certain to be stopped by the courts, but honestly, it's anyone's guess. The Supreme Court has never weighed in on this issue before, and at this point it seems prepared to rubber stamp just about every terrible thing the asshole-in-chief asks it to.

TL;DR -- everything is garbage. The garbage president is using his garbage Nazi buddy's garbage temper tantrum to enact yet another garbage policy. And the garbage Supreme Court is basically the garbage judicial branch of the garbage Republican party, so they might garbage let him.


But as for Brian Karem ... well, something tells us he's doing just fine.

[ Sherrill v. Knight / Complaint / TRO Memo / WH Letter / Karem Letter / Politico / The Atlantic / WaPo ]

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.

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