The editor of the local Sentinel newspapers took a brief star turn Tuesday afternoon after calling out Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for continuing to push the Trump administration’s ongoing narrative about fake news.
During Sanders’ afternoon on-camera news briefing, Brian Karem accused Sanders and the administration of hypocrisy for pushing the fake news allegations, a stand that generated instant praise on Twitter.
Here’s how the exchange unfolded:
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) June 27, 2017
Sanders was scolding the media for its coverage of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election in response to a question about whether Trump expects the news media to not report on a foreign government’s influence in a U.S. election. She was particularly harsh on CNN after it retracted a questionable Russia story and three journalists resigned over the flap Monday.
“We’ve been going on this Russia Trump hoax for the better part of a year now with no evidence of anything,” Sanders said. “I think America is looking for something better, they’re looking for something more and I think they deserve something better from our news media.”
She said any mistakes made by the administration result in an “absolute tirade” by the media. Meanwhile, she said some outlets have used unnamed sources to criticize the president.
That’s when Karem jumped in.
“Come on, you’re inflaming everyone right here, right now with those words,” responded Karem, who covers the White House for the Sentinel, which primarily writes about local issues in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. “This administration has done that as well. Why, in the name of heavens? Anyone of us, right, are replaceable? Anyone of us, 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’s no option other than that. We’re here to ask you questions, you’re here to provide the answers. 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 out here is fake media.’ Everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.”
“I disagree completely,” Sanders shot back. “First of all, I think if anything has been inflamed, it’s the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media. I think it’s outrageous for you to accuse me of inflaming a situation when I’m just trying to respond to a question.”
But those on social media seemed to quickly declare Karem the winner of the exchange, with thousands retweeting the video of it and praising his comments.
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) June 27, 2017
“Good for Brian Karem,” tweeted Princeton historian Kevin Kruse. “It’s about damn time.”
Others called him a “hero” and said he should be “applauded.”
“MUST WATCH: White House reporter Brian Karem pushing back against Sarah Huckabee Sanders and saying what many people have been thinking,” tweeted New York Magazine contributing writer Yashar Ali.
After the exchange, Karem tweeted:
So, when we are wrong we correct ourselves but when has POTUS ever done that? We are not FAKE news.
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) June 27, 2017
The tweet quickly racked up thousands of likes and retweets after he sent it.
Karem did get some backlash, with some Twitter users saying he shouldn’t have interrupted Sanders, while others accused him of grandstanding for the cameras and said this is why the administration has been holding off-camera briefings.
Sanders’ comments about the fake news trend and exchange with Karem ironically came as she encouraged reporters attending the briefing and “everyone across the country” to watch a video, which she did not name, that had been circulating on the internet, even though she couldn’t say if it was accurate. She did not say the name of the video, but news outlets reported it’s the Project Veritas undercover video A Disgrace to All of Media.
“Whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know,” Sanders said. “If it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all media, to all of journalism. I think we’ve gone to a place where if media can’t be trusted to report the news, then that’s a dangerous place for America.”
Project Veritas is the video firm started by conservative political activist James O’Keefe, who has been criticized at length in the past for inaccurate reporting and unfair editing in his political videos.