During the White House’s Social Media Summit in the Rose Garden on Thursday, CNN contributor Brian Karem and radio host Sebastian Gorka got involved in a tense verbal exchange that included a challenge from Karem to “go outside” and Gorka calling Karem a “punk.” But in CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’s incomplete summary of events, the blow-up — started by Karem, as video evidence shows — was an example of Trump’s “social media allies” “verbally abus[ing] reporters who were trying to do their jobs.”
Acosta began his curtailed coverage of the event by taking a selfie and describing the group of social media figures as “Trump’s social media allies,” who, Acosta makes sure to note, are “in the front rows” while all the White House press are “in the back.”
The moment from the event that generated the most buzz online was Karem and Gorka’s heated exchange. Acosta, who has consistently portrayed himself as unfairly targeted by the White House, framed the incident as Trump’s “allies” attacking a journalist just there to do his job while White House officials stood by in tacit approval.
“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. A good snapshot of how press is treated by WH,” Acosta tweeted.
He linked to a video that only shows Gorka calling Karem a “punk” and social media figures cheering Gorka — one predicting Gorka could kick Karem’s “punk a**” — while some of Karem’s fellow “real journalists” complain.
But, as people quickly pointed out to Acosta, his account of the confrontation and the video he linked conveniently left out how the whole thing got started (h/t Twitchy).
“As expected: Starting the clip with Gorka comment without the context of Karem earlier challenging him to a fight. Which is punk. And dishonest on @Acosta ‘s part,” wrote one follower.
Breitbart’s Kyle Morris responded by providing another angle of the incident: “Sounds as if Brian Karem was only in attendance to berate Trump supporters,” wrote Morris.
As Morris’ video shows, Karem prompted Gorka’s actions by taunting the social media figures. “This is a group of people that are eager for demonic possession,” said Karem.
In response, Gorka yelled back, “And you’re a journalist, right?”
“Hey, come on over here and talk with me, brother, we can go outside and have a long conversation,” said Karem, gesturing for Gorka to come over.
Gorka complied, walking over rapidly. “You’re threatening me now, at the White House? In the Rose Garden? You’re threatening me, in the Rose Garden!” said Gorka. “You are a punk! You’re not a journalist! You’re a punk!” Gorka yelled in Karem’s face.
“Go home,” said Karem. “Hey Gorka, get a job!”
The exchange inspired the “Gorka!” cheers from social media personalities.
A couple of other responses to Acosta’s “fake news” post: “Nope[.] But a solid #FakeNews take@BrianKarem started it by saying of the invited guests[.] ‘This is a group that is eager for demonic possession.’ Then @SebGorka responded to that insult,” wrote Jim Hanson. “The king of #FakeNews @Acosta will never admit he’s a liar Jim,” added ret. Col. Rob Maness.