Politics - News Analysis

Troublemaking WH Reporter Throws Hissy Fit After Karine Jean-Pierre Threatens to Kick Him of Our Briefing Room FOR GOOD

One reporter who keeps pushing the envelope with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has been issued a stern warning by the White House press office. The warning, in the form of a letter to Simon Ateba, a reporter for Today News Africa has firmly told him to stop interrupting Jean-Pierre when she is speaking.

I’ve reported on Ateba before, and he really is obnoxious. There are so many men who still think it’s okay to talk over women when they are speaking, and Ateba is one of them. It’s a behavior that needs to stop, period. It’s never okay. The same goes for women who do this, although I already know we’re in the minority here.

According to The Hill, Ateba posted the text and screenshots of the letter on his Twitter account. The two-page letter isn’t signed but it lays out a laundry list of instances where he impeded press briefings by shouting over his colleagues or made it impossible for Jean-Pierre to answer questions.

“The White House recognizes that members of the press often raise their voices or shout questions at press briefings or events,” the letter states. “Ordinarily such shouting stops when a reporter is called on for a question, and the briefing or event is able to continue. Continued interruptions are different; they prevent journalists from asking questions or administration officials and guests from responding. The Press Secretary’s only option in response to such disruptions is to stop the briefing event, which is to the detriment of all journalists.”

The letter refers to guidance issued on May 5 that was part of an effort for journalists who cover the White House that outlined expectations for behavior when they are part of the press pool, and those guidelines include respect for others in the building and not impeding events on campus.

And the letter had some sharp warnings for Ateba.

“If you continue to impede briefings or events by shouting over your colleagues who have been called on for a question, even after you have been asked to stop by a White House employee, then your hard pass may be suspended or revoked, following notice and an opportunity to respond,” the letter states. Ateba was given seven days to file a response.”

He’s posted further tweets that portray him as being repressed:

And even one where he’s begging for money because he’s facing “oppression, discrimination, and attacks from many sides in my attempt to do my job and report the truth.”

But part of “reporting the truth,” also means allowing other journalists to ask their own questions. That’s what White House press conferences are for. And if Jean-Pierre is constantly interrupted, she can’t report anything, period. So Ateba can complain all he likes but he’s bringing this upon himself.

And the document reminds Ateba of this, mentioning numerous instances when he interrupted press briefings by loudly demanding to be called on, accusing Jean-Pierre of discriminating against him, and complaining about other proceedings in the briefing room.

The document pinpoints a June 26 briefing when Ateba accused Jean-Pierre of discriminating against him for months. His constant interruptions and demands derailed the briefing as Jean-Pierre and other reporters asked Ateba to stop interrupting.

“You’re being incredibly rude,” the press secretary said, while Ateba asserted she was ‘not giving me freedom of the press.”

But how can anyone consider Ateba’s continual interruptions aimed at focusing on him as “freedom of the press?”

The letter also cites other incidents involving Ateba from May 13, March 20, and Dec. 8, 2022.

During the March 20 briefing, Ateba didn’t even give Jean-Pierre the chance to introduce the cast of “Ted Lasso,” before he began shouting. The cast was on hand to speak about mental health. Other reporters in the room tried to get Ateba to shut up and the White House Correspondents Association lamented the “breakdown of decorum.”

In December, Jean-Pierre brought the press briefing to an abrupt stop after she called on a reporter from The Hill, which Ateba interrupted yet again, by shouting and asking why he was not being called on.

If Ateba continues this behavior, he may well lose his press pass to the White House, but he would still be able to enter the facility through a more complicated procedure that requires those in the media to apply for access on a daily basis. I’m guessing in his case his requests will be continually turned down.

I’m going to also add if Jean-Pierre is avoiding his questions, she may be doing this to avoid his continued belligerence. One can hardly blame her for this. So if Ateba does lose his press pass he has no one to blame but himself.

But he’ll probably continue the blame game, claiming Jean-Pierre and those other journalists for discriminating against him.

meet the author

Megan has lived in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida and she currently lives in Central America. Living in these places has informed her writing on politics, science, and history. She is currently owned by 15 cats and 3 dogs and regularly owns Trump supporters when she has the opportunity. She can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/GaiaLibra and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/politicalsaurus

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