Court rules reporter’s White House pass unfairly suspended

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday that the White House last year unfairly suspended the press credentials of a Washington reporter for Playboy.

Reporter Brian Karem filed a federal lawsuit after the administration imposed a 30-day suspension of the pass that allows him access to the White House complex.

The suspension announced by then-White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was the result of a heated Rose Garden discussion between Karem and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka in July 2019.

A lower court had previously ruled against the White House and ordered the pass reinstated, after Karem had already served 18 days of the suspension. The White House accused Karem of escalating the exchange with Gorka, which the reporter denied.

The unanimous three-judge appellate panel found that the White House did not provide any warning that the penalty for the breach of decorum would be so severe.

The administration argued in court that without any standards, reporters could behave poorly, and even “moon” the president, with no consequences.

But Judge David Tatel wrote for the court that “the White House can rest assured that principles of due process do not limit its authority to maintain order and decorum at White House events by, for example, ordering the immediate removal of rogue, mooning journalists.”

Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents Association praised the ruling in a statement. “Today the DC Circuit affirmed what we all know – the work of journalists reporting from the White House is essential to our republic. The WHCA stands ready to fend off efforts by any administration to constrain the rights of journalists or to threaten our ability to do exercise our First Amendment rights.”