Judge Issues Decision Restoring White House Reporter’s Hard Pass

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Brian Karem of Playboy Magazine (2nd R) argues with conservative military and intelligence analyst and former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump Sebastian Gorka (R) after the Presid... WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Brian Karem of Playboy Magazine (2nd R) argues with conservative military and intelligence analyst and former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump Sebastian Gorka (R) after the President made a Rose Garden statement on the census July 11, 2019 at the White House in Washington, DC. President Trump, who had previously pushed to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, announced that he would direct the Commerce Department to collect that data in other ways. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 4, 2019 7:48 a.m.
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Playboy correspondent Brian Karem celebrated a judge’s decision Tuesday to at least temporarily restore his hard pass after he got into a verbal fight with Seb Gorka in the Rose Garden.

U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras granted Karem a preliminary injunction because, per court documents, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham “failed to provide fair notice of the fact that a hard pass could be suspended under these circumstances.”

Contreras cites “the Acosta letter,” or guidelines the White House sent to the press corps after attempting to revoke CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s hard pass in November. A judge intervened then too.

“What is deemed ‘professional’ behavior in the context of a state dinner may be very
different from what is considered ‘professional’ behavior during a performance by James Brown,” the judge wrote of the vagueness of those guidelines.

Grisham accused Contreras of giving the White House press corps “free reign.”

“We disagree with the decision of the district court to issue an injunction that essentially gives free reign to members of the press to engage in unprofessional, disruptive conduct at the White House,” she said in a statement obtained by TPM. “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. The Press Secretary must have the ability to deter such unacceptable conduct.”

Read the full court ruling here:

Correction: This post originally referred to Karem as a Playbook correspondent. He writes for Playboy magazine.

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