Judge orders White House to reinstate reporter’s pass

The moment Playboy magazine contributor Brian Karem (L) and former Trump deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka (2ndL) argued after the US president delivered remarks on citizenship and the census at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 11, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
Updated 04 September 2019

Judge orders White House to reinstate reporter’s pass

  • Playboy reporter Brian Karem’s White House pass was temporarily revoked after he argued with President Donald Trump’s former aide Sebastian Gorka
  • Karem’s “hard pass” — a long-term White House press pass — was suspended for 30 days

WASHINGTON: The White House was ordered Tuesday by a federal judge to reverse its suspension of a reporter’s press credentials.
Playboy reporter Brian Karem’s White House pass was temporarily revoked after he argued with President Donald Trump’s former aide Sebastian Gorka at a July Rose Garden event.
Karem’s “hard pass” — a long-term White House press pass — was suspended for 30 days in August by Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, who cited his lack of “professionalism” and “decorum.”
But US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras determined the standards for press behavior had not been made clear before the event and granted a preliminary injunction restoring Karem’s pass.
“Grisham failed to provide fair notice of the fact that a hard pass could be suspended under these circumstances,” the judge wrote.
The press secretary had cited the three rules regarding press etiquette — published after CNN reporter Jim Acosta temporarily lost his hard pass in November after a testy exchange with Trump.
But Judge Contreras dismissed the rules as too vague.
He said that as White House events appear to vary greatly in character, professionalism alone was “too murky” to rely upon.
Grisham had not originally cited the Acosta rules in her letters to Karem, Contreras said, “which casts some doubt on whether she thought that (they) provided any meaningful notice.”
Karem lost his pass after arguing with Gorka at Trump’s Social Media Summit, which was open to the press, in July.
A video of the two trading insults quickly went viral.
Karem called the attendees “a group of people who are eager for demonic possession.”
Gorka responded by shouting, “You’re not a journalist! You’re a punk!“
Karem celebrated the decision Tuesday by tweeting, “God bless the Constitution, free speech, due process,” and also thanking his lawyers.


Social media app TikTok removes Daesh propaganda videos

Updated 22 October 2019

Social media app TikTok removes Daesh propaganda videos

  • An employee at TikTok told AFP that about 10 accounts were removed for posting the videos
  • The videos featured corpses being paraded through streets and Daesh fighters with guns
BEIJING: Social media app TikTok has taken down accounts that were posting propaganda videos for the Daesh group, a company employee said Tuesday, in the latest scandal to hit the popular platform.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, claimed some 500 million users globally last year, making it one of the most popular social apps.

An employee at TikTok told AFP that about 10 accounts were removed for posting the videos.

“Only one of those videos even had views that reached into double digits before being taken down,” said the staffer, who declined to be named.

The videos featured corpses being paraded through streets and Daesh fighters with guns, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story on Monday.

The Journal said the posts were from about two dozen accounts, which were identified by social media intelligence company Storyful.

“Content promoting terrorist organizations have absolutely no place on TikTok,” the company said in a statement emailed to AFP.

“We permanently ban any such accounts and associated devices as soon as identified, and we continuously develop ever-stronger controls to proactively detect suspicious activity,” it said.

Daesh's self-declared “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria fell in March, but the group remains active in several countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as still inspiring jihadists through an online presence.

The TikTok platform, which allows users to create and share videos of 15 seconds, is particularly popular with teenagers.

“Unlike other platforms, which are centered around users’ friends or communities, TikTok is based on engaging with a never-ending stream of new content,” said Darren Davidson, the editor-in-chief of Storyful.

“The Daesh postings violate TikTok’s policies, but the sheer volume of content makes it difficult for TikTok to police their platform and root out these videos,” he said.

The app has been marred by controversy in recent months. In April, TikTok was briefly banned by an Indian court over claims it was promoting pornography among children.

The app is banned in neighboring Bangladesh and was hit with an enormous fine in the United States for illegally collecting information from children.

The company has refuted the allegations, saying they abide by local privacy laws.

ByteDance has a version of TikTok in China called Douyin.