A handful of conservative personalities who attended President TrumpDonald John TrumpControversial platform Gab slams White House for not inviting it to social media summit GOP senator: US should 'reevaluate' long-term relationship with Saudis Pelosi reportedly told Trump deputy: 'What was your name, dear?' MORE's social media summit on Thursday clashed with reporters in the Rose Garden after they were invited to sit in on an announcement about the census.
The scene played out as Trump stood between Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrConservatives ask Barr to lay out Trump's rationale for census question Trump increasingly boxed in on census citizenship question Jeffrey Epstein forces Washington to deal with embarrassing connections MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHillicon Valley: Appeals court rules Trump can't block people on Twitter | Tech giants to testify in House antitrust investigation | DHS set for grilling over facial recognition tech | Commerce to allow sales to Huawei Census paves moment of truth for the Supreme Court and rule of law Can he do that? How to answer this common question in the Trump era MORE, and a number of far-right social media personalities and attendees criticized for having promoted conspiracy theories sat in the audience. The mood quickly turned confrontational after the president returned inside.
Sebastian GorkaSebastian Lukacs GorkaWarren, Sanders, Booker urge review of Sinclair .6B acquisition of regional sports networks Katharine Gorka to be named CBP press secretary Gorka slams PBS children's show 'Arthur' over gay wedding MORE, a former White House adviser, stormed over to engage with Playboy correspondent Brian Karem at the conclusion of Trump's remarks, where the president announced he would drop his bid to add a citizenship question to the census.
As reporters and other social media summit guests looked on, Gorka called Karem a "punk" and accused the journalist of threatening him as the two exchanged words. Fellow conservative personalities broke into a chant of "Gorka!" as they filmed the encounter.
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE WARNING - Former White House aide Sebastian Gorka gets in tiff with media, accusing journalist of 'threatening' him in the Rose Garden, after Trump drops census citizenship question at a news conference pic.twitter.com/91zNJD8gkj— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 11, 2019
Gorka later spoke to reporters nearby and was asked why he blocks so many people on Twitter.
"I block whoever I want to. I block 16,000 people," he told Steve Herman of Voice of America. "Because they’re asshats, that’s why."
After the @POTUS statement, I queried @SebGorka (former deputy assistant to @POTUS) in the @WhiteHouse Rose Garden about why he blocks so many journalists (including me) on Twitter, despite insisting that people on social media shouldn't be blocked. Here's what happened. pic.twitter.com/ujpztNDncb— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) July 11, 2019
A few others in the crowd heckled members of the press who stood behind a rope line at back of the Rose Garden. Trump took questions from his supporters during the social media summit, but did not respond to shouted questions from the credentialed press during the Rose Garden event.
Joy Villa, a vocal Trump supporter, turned to the press at one point and encouraged them to "stop reporting fake news."
"How many copy editors do you have?" Karem asked.
"We don’t need to have that. We just have our voice," Villa responded, wearing an American flag-themed dress that read "FREEDOM" at the bottom.
“That’s not journalism,” Karem replied, as the two continued exchanging views.
Footage of the exchanges involving Gorka, Villa and Karem quickly circulated on social media.
.@Joy_Villa: "We respect you guys, but you gotta stop reporting fake news."@BrianKarem: "How many copy editors do you have? How many copy editors do you have?"— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) July 11, 2019
Villa and @Playboy's Karem get into a disagreement about what is and isn't journalism. pic.twitter.com/PU9VmGLZGJ
During Thursday's social media summit, Trump complained of "terrible bias" and censorship in front of a crowd of roughly 200 conservative personalities.
The president spent much of the speech boasting about his own prolific social media following, while simultaneously alleging that Twitter has suppressed his following. Social media companies have insisted that political views do not play a role in the enforcement of their policies.
The president announced that he will be convening a meeting of the companies at the White House next week over concerns that they routinely censor right-wing perspectives.