Playboy’s White House correspondent Brian Karem said that his White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) membership request was declined on Thursday and suggested it was because he wrote a piece critical of the association.
“This morning at 9 a.m. EST my latest column for Playboy posted – one in which I criticized the WHCA for a conflict of interest,” Karem tweeted Thursday evening. “At 10:32 a.m. I was informed by the WHCA that my request for membership this year has been declined. Guess I won’t go to the dinner this year!”
This morning at 9 a.m. EST my latest column for Playboy posted – one in which I criticized the WHCA for a conflict of interest. At 10:32 a.m. I was informed by the WHCA that my request for membership this year has been declined. Guess I won’t go to the dinner this year! pic.twitter.com/wEVoOHt1eP
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) January 29, 2021
WHCA executive director Steven Thomma told the Daily Caller Friday that the group doesn’t “discuss memberships.”
The article Karem referenced, published Thursday, pushes back on guidelines set up by President Joe Biden’s administration. Amid the ongoing pandemic, Biden’s team has “put the WHCA in charge of determining which of their professional comrades can enter, based on a daily lottery,” according to Karem’s article.
Karem wrote that the new rules are “draconian and unnecessary” and suggested that the WHCA president and The Associated Press’ correspondent Zeke Miller is profiting from a conflict of interest.
Karem reiterated the argument he made in his article to the Caller on Friday. In addition, he told the Caller that the WHCA’s reason behind declining the membership was that he isn’t “a team player” and alleged that he’s been “told by a few other reporters that they were cautioned if they ever said anything against the WHCA that they would be heavily sanctioned.”
“Their official reason, I think if I look, it was that I continue to show up when they told me I shouldn’t,” Karem said. “But that’s the point, they don’t have the right to tell you when you can show up if you have a hard pass, that’s up to the Secret Service. No reporter has a right to tell any other reporter how to do their job. Period.”
A source familiar with the decision to deny Karem’s WHCA membership told the Caller that the choice was made prior to Playboy’s article going live. The decision did not have to do with Karem’s column and the note had been drafted before Thursday, when Karem was notified, according to the source.
Karem has had a tumultuous time as a White House correspondent under former President Donald Trump. In 2019, he briefly had his White House press pass revoked after getting into a public verbal fight with former White House deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka in the Rose Garden. (RELATED: Judge Orders White House To Restore Playboy Reporter’s Press Pass)
Karem has also had tiffs with Trump and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany accused him in December 2020 of shouting “demanding” and “misogynistic” questions at her because she is a Republican. Karem responded to the accusations on Twitter afterwards, calling them “lame.”
The source familiar with the WHCA’s decision also noted that anyone upset regarding its membership decisions can appeal to the board.
Karem told the Caller that he doesn’t “give a shit” and has no plans to appeal the decision.
“I’ll give you the Groucho Marx quote: I don’t want to be part of a club that would have me as a member anyway. All it [does to me] is keeps me from going to the dinner and I think it’s gonna be a virtual dinner this year. So, the WHCA is run by children. That’s the only way to put it,” Karem said.