Reporter accuses White House of ‘inflaming’ media tensions in heated exchange

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A White House reporter confronted White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the top of her Tuesday press briefing, accusing her of “inflaming” tensions with the media and undercutting the credibility of reporters.

Sanders had been asked about whether President Trump accepts the apology from CNN regarding a recent story it retracted about alleged ties between a Trump ally and a Russian investment fund.

“All we are saying is I think we should take a really good look at what we are focused on, what we are covering and making sure it’s accurate and honest,” she said. 

{mosads}”If we make the slightest mistake, the slightest word is off, it’s an absolute tirade from a lot of people in this room. But news outlets get to go on day after day and cite unnamed sources, use stories without sources.”

As she continued, Brian Karem, a contributor to Playboy magazine, interrupted.

“You are inflaming everyone right here right now with those words. This administration has done that as well … Any one of us are replaceable, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us. You have been elected to serve for four years at least, there is no option other than that,” Karem said. 


“We are here to ask you questions, you are here to provide answers. And what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again, the president is right and everybody else is just fake media.’ Everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.”

Playboy drew attention to Karem’s comments on Twitter, calling it “his ‘Network’ moment.”

Sanders pushed back, briefly addressing the accusations before moving onto questions from another reporter. 

“I disagree completely. First of all, if anything has been inflamed, it’s the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media. I think it is outrageous for you to accuse me of inflaming a story when I was simply trying to respond to his question,” she said.

Tuesday marked the first on-camera press briefing for the White House in a week. Reporters have grown critical of the administration’s decision to hold more off-camera briefings, and of officials who denounce anonymous sources while only agreeing to speak to the press on background.

During the same briefing, Sanders encouraged reporters “and frankly everybody around the country” to watch a new video from conservative provocateur James O’Keefe the purports to show a CNN producer referring to much of his network’s Russian coverage as “bullshit.”

“If it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism. 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,” Sanders said.


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