Sam Husseini, a blogger for washingtonstakeout.com and Communications Director for the Institute for Public Accuracy, has been invited to the National Press Club today at 5 p.m. for a closed meeting of the club’s Ethics Committee. He tells FBDC that he will not attend, even though they said he could bring an attorney. Counsel he spoke with cannot make it today. Husseini was suspended from the club last week after questioning Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal in a manner club officials found “boisterous” and “unseemly.” Husseini is more than skeptical about today’s meeting. “I don’t want cloak and dagger stuff where there’s no record of it,” he said in a phone interview. “Someone can claim I said something I didn’t say. It should be open and recorded. Why should an Ethics Committee operate in secret? They could be good people, I’m just talking about the process.”
WaPo‘s Erik Wemple wrote about Husseini’s ordeal on Friday, spelling out the reasons for Husseini’s suspension last week. Wemple questioned whether the NPC was justified in their decision to suspend him, razzed them for suspending a member on the slowest week of the year, and largely sided with Husseni, writing, “I’d rather see a rabble-rouser or two get thrown into the mix, the better to inject a little drama into things.”
Husseini isn’t lacking for drama. “The content of my questions is tough and that makes it grating to people who are wedded to the establishment,” he says. As he explains himself, “I’m trying to reinvent journalism. Journalism needs to be reinvented. It has become a lackadaisical enterprise that allows misogynist, autocratic and draconian figures to go unscrutinized.”
Some basics on this modern-day rabble-rouser: He has belonged to the NPC since 1997. He pays $600-$700 in annual dues. And yes, he has been “harangued” in the past about his tough questioning, but never to this extent. Some years ago, he recalled being suspended after being falsely accused of behaving badly at an event. In that instance, Husseini insists, it was another member, not him. They revoked the suspension and told him they’d made a mistake. Husseini wanted an apology letter in writing. They blew off that request. This time, however, he did receive a letter telling him explicitly not to come to the club during his two-week suspension.
Obviously this edict does not include today’s meeting at 5 p.m., at which time they could end the suspension, continue the suspension, or throw him out. Members of the Ethics Committee include Bloomberg‘s John Hughes, CQ Roll Call‘s John Donnelly and AP’s Theresa Werner. Those who will not attend today’s meeting are Kiplinger‘s Mark Wojno and government relations executive Shawn Bullard. Also expected to attend today’s meeting is NPC Executive Director William McCarren.
We’ve requested comment from McCarren on the matter.
UPDATE: See the letter to Husseini from McCarren…
November 15, 2011
529 14th Street, NW #915
Washington, DC 20045
Dear Mr. Husseini,
We are suspending your membership for two weeks, effective immediately, due to your conduct at a news conference held at the National Press Club on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. Your action was in direct violation of House Rule 4 and grounds for immediate suspension.
House Rule No. 4 states: “Boisterous and unseemly conduct or language in or about the Club premises or in connection with any Club-sponsored event is prohibited. Any member so offending shall be liable for immediate suspension by any Member of the board or the manager or his designee pending investigation by the board, which shall render final action.”
This matter will be reviewed by the Club’s Ethics Committee. A meeting will be scheduled prior to the end of your two week suspension to discuss your conduct and the violation. The Chairperson of the Ethics Committee will contact you to schedule the meeting.
In the meantime, you should not come to the Club or use its facilities for any reason.