Squabble Breaks Out in White House Rose Garden Between Former Trump Aide and Journalist
The incident took place after President Donald Trump announced he would not push to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census
Heated words were exchanged in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday between right-wing radio host Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide in President Donald Trump’s administration, and Brian Karem, the senior White House correspondent for Playboy, who also works as a political analyst for CNN.
Tensions boiled over between the pair after Trump announced he would not push to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census.
The incident appeared to kick off after an unseen attendee could be heard making a mocking comment at Karem, a frequent critic of the Trump administration. “Don’t be sad,” they said, according to a video shared on social media.
“This is a group of people who are eager for demonic possession,” Karem replied, moving to turn away before Gorka called out, “And you’re a journalist right?“
Addressing Gorka, Karem went on to invite him to “come on over and talk to me brother, or we can go outside and have a long conversation.”
“You’re threatening me in the Rose Garden of the White House?” Gorka called out as he approached Karem, before shouting in his face, “You’re a punk. You’re not a journalist, you’re a punk.”
As Gorka turned away, Karem told him to “go home” before yelling out, “Hey Gorka, get a job!”
Gorka, as well as many other far-right media figures, had been invited to attend Trump’s press conference after attending a social media summit at the Rose Garden earlier in the day, according to Vox.
The crowd around the pair, which included singer Joy Villa, known primarily for making conservative political points through her looks at award shows, could be cheering on Gorka as he walked away, chanting his name.
In a video shared by New York Times reporter Katie Rogers online, someone off-camera could be heard telling Karem, “Just for the record, he’d kick your punk ass.”
Addressing the incident on Thursday, Karem quipped that it was “just another day at the WH!”
Alongside a video from the incident, he added in a separate message, “Well it is never a dull moment here.”
In a statement made to The Daily Caller, Gorka went on to call Karem “a washed-up has-been,” adding that after his criticisms of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “someone had to take him on.”
Neither Karem nor Gorka immediately responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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Calling the incident a “good snapshot of how [the] press is treated by” the White House, CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta went on to retweet a video from the incident.
“WH officials invited Trump’s social media allies to sit in the Rose Garden. But after the event was over, West Wing aides did nothing when those social media figures began to verbally abuse reporters who were trying to do their jobs,” he wrote.
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., went on to take issue with Acosta’s characterization of the incident.
“This is pure hackery! It’s just another example of the establishment media deceptively & intentionally taking a trump supporter out of context to fit their anti-Trump narrative,” he wrote. “The full video proves @BrianKarem started the altercation and the media should be honest about that.”
Addressing the heated moment on Instagram on Friday morning, the president openly sided with Gorka.
“@SebGorka Wins Big, No Contest!” Trump tweeted.