August 6, 2019

US – #WeeklyAddress: July 29 – August 4: White House suspends “hard pass” of Playboy correspondent

Brendan Smialowski / AFP
Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of July 29 – August 4:

White House suspends “hard pass” of Playboycorrespondent

The White House notified Playboy columnist and CNN analyst Brian Karem in a letter on August 2 that his “hard pass” would be revoked Monday, August 5. The 30-day suspension, which Karem said he will appeal, comes nearly four weeks after the reporter had a widely-publicized verbal scuffle with pro-Trump radio host Sebastian Gorka in the White House Rose Garden. Gorka has not reported any suspension of his press credentials. The last time a White House correspondent’s credentials were suspended was in November 2018, when CNN’s Jim Acosta successfully countered a suspension of his “hard pass.”


As White House nears 150 days without briefing, other departments remain silent 

It has been 147 days since the White House’s last press briefing—a drought that significantly eclipses the Trump administration’s former record of 42 days. The “death” of the White House press briefing has received its fair share of media attention, but the White House is far from alone in its silence; the State and Defense departments are breaking records, too. While the State Department continues to host press briefings, its once daily briefings have dwindled to bi-weekly or monthly in frequency. The Pentagon, while still holding intermittent off-camera briefings, has all but cancelled its televised press briefings. Though they used to be a common occurrence, the Defense Department has only broadcast one in the last year.


Trump calls Washington Post a “Russian asset” in response to editorial article

After The Washington Post published an editorial titled “Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset” July 26, President Donald Trump turned the wording back on the publication, claiming “The Washington Post is a Russian asset by comparison,” during a pool spray on July 30. The original editorial argued that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was “doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding” by blocking legislation intended to reduce Russian meddling in US elections. President Trump has a tumultuous history with thePost, which he has frequently singled out in tweets and accused of being “fake news.” He recently attacked The Washington Post for publishing “Fake Polls” and reporting on the US-Mexico border agreement.



 NBC NEWS: AG Barr rails against encryption — but security experts have heard it before 


US PRESS FREEDOM TRACKER: Documentary filmmaker shot with ‘crowd control ammunition’ while filming protests in Puerto Rico



The United States ranks 48th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index


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