After a White House press briefing this week, Playboy reporter Brian Karem accused the Trump Administration of bullying the media and warned it might ultimately cause retaliation against reporters.
“We can’t take the bullying anymore. It’s undermining the Fourth Estate, it’s undermining the First Amendment,” he said in an interview on MSNBC.
In what may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, Karem took exception to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comments regarding the media and said that he is “tired of being bullied.”
The kerfuffle began when Sanders was asked to expand on the recent resignation of three CNN reporters due to alleged fake news linking Anthony Scaramucci, an ally of President Donald Trump’s, with a Russian investment fund, Sanders was quick to lay the blame at the media’s doorstep:
“I think that we have gone to a place where, if the media can’t be trusted to report the news, then that’s a dangerous place for America,” she said during the press briefing. “News outlets get to go on, day after day, and cite unnamed sources, use stories without sources.”
Sanders referred to the retracted CNN story in which there was only one anonymous source declaring a congressional investigation into the Russian story. It is general practice to protect a source if the information they are providing is sensitive in nature and there is a fear of retaliation or repercussion.
“Come on, you’re inflaming everybody right here, right now, with those words,” Karem admonished the secretary. “This administration has done that as well.”
Having gotten a second wind, Karem continued by saying people do not need to read or watch the news if they do not want to, but since Sanders is an elected official, the public has no other options but to endure her during the president’s term in office. (News flash: Sanders is not elected but rather an appointed official. She serves at the pleasure of the president.)
Let’s face it. Being a reporter is not a popular job. Criticism and insults are a daily part of life in a reporter’s world. Of course, it’s not all bad, but since the beginning of time, someone, somewhere, has called out the media saying it was reporting falsely – in one way or another. Still, most reporters don’t bite the hand that feeds them and – as of late — Sanders is dishing out the chow to reporters at the White House.
Sanders went on to defend her boss saying he was frustrated with the misleading news surrounding the administration, and the recent CNN reporting fiasco was a great segue into her tirade. Karem, however, took exception to Sander’s lumping everyone together. In a tweet following this incident, Karem defended the people in his profession, saying “We are not FAKE news.”
While some followers on Karem’s Twitter account accuse him of getting his “one minute” of fame, the Playboy reporter has since told CNN “News Day” he predicted reporters would become victims of assault, which he claims will be the direct consequence of the Trump administration and the way they treat the media:
It is undermining the First Amendment. It is dangerous. It is making it dangerous for reporters. You’re absolutely right, there will come a time, it won’t be too far off, I surmise. We will see a reporter is going to face physical harm because of this.
When has a reporter’s job been anything other than dangerous? It comes with the territory. Karem didn’t specify where he thought the specific attacks would come from – the administration or the public – but one can’t help but wonder if the sensationalism he’s creating might ultimately do more harm than good.
In another tweet, Karem continued with his warnings:
It isn’t about liberal or conservative. Reporters have died, been beaten and jailed. They deserve respect – not derision – not bullying.
Since Tuesday’s briefing, Karem has been tweeting and doing interviews, even being called a heroic reporter defending CNN’s honor in one account. Although it is doubtful he was defending any particular media; his beef with Sanders was for the White House Press Corps. Calling him a hero is only adding more fuel to Karem’s self-righteous fire. He has issued a call for reporters to stand up and fight against the president’s attempts to dismiss the media.
When it comes to “bullying,” both sides are guilty, even though the term may be a bit strong in this instance. Innuendos, accusations, and insults fly freely. In this politically correct, hypersensitive environment we now have the Trump administration and reporters fighting like school children on the playground.
So, one must ask: Who is the bigger bully, and what kind of example does this set for children?
Whether Karem’s call to arms to reporters will see any results, is anyone’s guess. For now, however, Playboy’s correspondent is fed up and not shy about letting everyone know:
For the government to sit there and undermine essentially what is a very essential checks and balances in the system, it’s disheartening, it’s unnerving, I can’t take it anymore.
Mr. Karem had better put his big boy shoes on as the White House Press Room is a daunting and demanding playground. And it’s doubtful that weak, whining reporters will garner much in the way of sympathy from the public or the president and his administration.
Thus far the American public has witnessed reporters like Karem dish it out – the question now remains — can they take it.