Trump social media summit attendees clash with reporters in Rose Garden

A handful of conservative personalities who attended President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE's social media summit on Thursday clashed with reporters in the Rose Garden after they were invited to sit in on an announcement about the census.

The scene played out as Trump stood between Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGOP senator says Trump commuting Stone was a 'mistake' Barr recommended Trump not give Stone clemency: report Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOVERNIGHT ENERGY: WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says | Supreme Court rules that large swath of Oklahoma belongs to Native American tribe WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says  OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget MORE, and a number of far-right social media personalities and attendees criticized for having promoted conspiracy theories sat in the audience. The mood quickly turned confrontational after the president returned inside. 

Sebastian GorkaSebastian Lukacs GorkaSunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Trump's new head of US media agency under fire from both sides Appeals court blocks White House from suspending reporter MORE, a former White House adviser, stormed over to engage with Playboy correspondent Brian Karem at the conclusion of Trump's remarks, where the president announced he would drop his bid to add a citizenship question to the census.

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As reporters and other social media summit guests looked on, Gorka called Karem a "punk" and accused the journalist of threatening him as the two exchanged words. Fellow conservative personalities broke into a chant of "Gorka!" as they filmed the encounter. 

Gorka later spoke to reporters nearby and was asked why he blocks so many people on Twitter.

"I block whoever I want to. I block 16,000 people," he told Steve Herman of Voice of America. "Because they’re asshats, that’s why."

A few others in the crowd heckled members of the press who stood behind a rope line at back of the Rose Garden. Trump took questions from his supporters during the social media summit, but did not respond to shouted questions from the credentialed press during the Rose Garden event.

Joy Villa, a vocal Trump supporter, turned to the press at one point and encouraged them to "stop reporting fake news." 

"How many copy editors do you have?" Karem asked.

"We don’t need to have that. We just have our voice," Villa responded, wearing an American flag-themed dress that read "FREEDOM" at the bottom.

“That’s not journalism,” Karem replied, as the two continued exchanging views.

Footage of the exchanges involving Gorka, Villa and Karem quickly circulated on social media.

During Thursday's social media summit, Trump complained of "terrible bias" and censorship in front of a crowd of roughly 200 conservative personalities.

The president spent much of the speech boasting about his own prolific social media following, while simultaneously alleging that Twitter has suppressed his following. Social media companies have insisted that political views do not play a role in the enforcement of their policies. 

The president announced that he will be convening a meeting of the companies at the White House next week over concerns that they routinely censor right-wing perspectives.