The pressure the White House is putting on the press finally cracked Playboy correspondent Brian Karem, who scolded Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the continued accusations from the White House that reporters do nothing but peddle fake news. Now he’s elaborated on the battle between Trump and the press on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, telling co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski about how he sees the tug of war between the White House and the journalists trying to do their jobs:
“We are bullied and browbeaten every day … When the president of the United States, even (Wednesday) morning, is tweeting out ‘fake media,’ and telling us we’re the enemy of the people. He’s inflaming the very people who got him in office. He’s speaking to his base, and he’s trying to undermine the very essence of what we do, and that’s not good for this republic, it’s not good for this country. It’s anathema, it’s got to be stopped and we have to stand up to it.”
Karem explained on Morning Joe that Trump seems determined to be the American people’s sole source of trusted information. “What it speaks to is dissolving the independent media,” said Karem. “If we don’t print what they want or broadcast what they like, we’re automatically fake media.” Indeed, Trump has said before that he would like to cancel future press briefings and instead “hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy.” He has largely banned cameras at press briefings — a move Bannon blamed purely on Sean Spicer gaining weight.
Media outlets have found some clever ways around the camera ban — CNN sent a court room sketch artist to take the place of a photographer — but that doesn’t change Trump’s continued efforts to limit the press’ ability to effectively do their jobs, or the way those efforts could make his accusations appear to have more weight. “What was funny, Sarah sat there (Tuesday) and asked to us look at a video, and she wasn’t even sure the video was vetted and was factual — but if factual, man, it was bad,” Karem told Morning Joe. “So you’re promoting, in essence, false media, and accusing the rest of us of being false media.”
Karem is referring to the incident when he blew up at deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee. “We’re here to ask you questions, and you’re here to provide the answers,” he snapped. “Everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.” In his interview with Scarborough and Brzezinski, Karem expanded on that point, noting, “For the government to sit there and undermine, essentially, what is an essential checks and balances in the system, it’s bit disheartening.” He added, “We can’t take the bullying anymore. It’s undermining the Fourth Estate, it’s undermining the First Amendment.”