In The Matter Of Playboy V. White House, Judge Says Get F*cked

Playboy reporter Brian Karem got his White House hard press pass back yesterday after US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that it had been arbitrarily and unconstitutionally yanked. Turns out that White House Commsliar Stephanie Grisham's vague arglebargle about "professionalism" is an insufficient standard to apply when depriving the press of its First Amendment rights. Womp womp.

For those of you keeping score at home, with the drubbing they took in the Jim Acosta case, the tally is now Due Process 2, White House 0.

It all started back in July when Donald Trump convened a bunch of "social media influencers" -- AKA Nazis, conmen, and victims of evil Wonkette BESMIRCH STATEMENT(S) Diamond & Silk -- to watch him whine about all his lovely bot followers getting purged on Twitter. Afterward they all headed out to the Rose Garden, where the venerated guest hacks got seats and the White House Press Corps were forced to stand outside, cordoned off by rope.

The atmosphere between the IRL journalists and the hacks, whose entire con is pretending that their poisonous invective is "real news," was tense. Sebastian Gorka, who got fired from the White House for being a useless dick who couldn't get a security clearance, photographed the Press Corps for a "Fake News Panorama." As Judge Contreras put it, "jocular insults had been flying from all directions," which is judgetalk for everyone was acting like A ASSHOLE. When Trump refused to take questions, one of the hacks quipped, "He talked to us, the real news." Karem responded, "This is a group eager for demonic possession," which is some kind of Rodney Dangerfield joke, we guess. We are old, but we're not that old. At any rate, Herr Gorka's honor is not to be trifled with, so he came over and tried to start shit with Karem, who suggested they "go outside and have a long conversation."

Was this an invitation to fight, or just your average testosterone-fueled dickery? Dunno watch the tape yourself.

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

In any event, it turns out that just generally being a dickhead at the dickhead symposium is insufficient grounds to suppress press freedom. Once again, the White House can't just fart out some nonsense about "norms" as an excuse to punish journalists they don't like. Although an appeal to "norms" in the age of Trump is extremely chef's kiss.

In an August 2 letter, Grisham acknowledged that there are no written rules for the Press Corps, saying the White House "had not previously thought that a set of explicit rules was necessary to govern behavior by members of the press at White House press events." And yet she insisted that he'd violated the non-existent user agreement by failing to "act professionally, maintain decorum and order, and obey instructions from White House staff." In a later letter finalizing the 30-day suspension, Grisham pointed to an earlier communication sent by the dearly departed Shuckster to CNN's Jim Acosta back in November where she threatened to impose a set of rules if the Press Corps didn't start policing itself. This threat to GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT was cited as sufficient notice to Karem that he had to adhere to subjective "journalistic norms" OR ELSE.

Except OR ELSE is not a real legal standard, particularly when the government is punishing a reporter for exercising his First Amendment rights. As Judge Contreras wrote, "Though 'professionalism' has a well-known common meaning, it is inherently subjective and context-dependent." And he wasn't having any crap about the solemnity of events featuring Diamond & Silk, when "freewheeling and that aggressive conduct has long been tolerated without punishment" before President Thinskin showed up and started whining.

Plus, he didn't buy their bullshit about the Secret Service needing to step in before Karem started throwing hands at Gorks, saying, "[T]he videos belie the notion that a Secret Service agent had to intervene to prevent a fight: the agent walks right past Karem as the exchange with Gorka is concluding (before returning upon hearing someone call Karem a 'punk ass')."

And then they all kissed and made up.

Just kidding. We have another 16 months of this bullshit. Fuckin' GOTV, y'all!

[Karem v. Trump, Order / Karem v. Trump, Supporting Docs]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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