Bias Watch

Is Jen Psaki behind an “intimidation” campaign against a wacky Christian White House reporter?

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pauses for a moment as she addresses reporters on Thursday, April 15, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Photo: White House

An anti-LGBTQ Christian conservative reporter is mounting a campaign to get access to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s office, even though he doesn’t really seem to be much of a journalist, instead running an anti-LGBTQ newsletter that even published the n-word this year in a piece denouncing “critical race theory.”

Matthew Anthony Harper runs InterMountain Christian News, a pdf published four times a year online that mostly has opinion pieces, a Bible crossword puzzle, and articles reprinted from other far-right websites. But now he’s saying he is the target of an “intimidation” campaign by the White House.

Related: Jen Psaki decimates Fox reporter misquoting Joe Biden… by reading the full quote

“A Secret Service person was giving me a hard time, saying I couldn’t be there,” he told Salon, referring to hanging out in front of Psaki’s White House office on September 15. He said the agent told him he “didn’t have clearance” to be there.

Harper was “confused about why I’m being banned from this,” he said. He now can’t be in the White House without an escort.

He contends that he should have access to the White House even though he doesn’t do much journalism or have an audience, saying he’s not there to “win a popularity contest.”

That self-assuredness may have played a role in his choice this past Monday to get other White House journalists to “pray” with him to get access to the West Wing.

His questions to Psaki – as well as his trouble getting access – are pretty much the only original news content in InterMountain Christian News. The front page story in the May/June/July 2021 issue (the latest edition) is a piece by Harper arguing that President Joe Biden shouldn’t be allowed to receive Catholic Communion because of the president’s support for abortion.

Most of the article is a transcript of him asking Psaki about whether Biden is going to start opposing abortion because of his faith. Psaki replied that Biden’s religious practices are “personal to him,” she refused to comment on the Catholic Church’s doctrines, and she ended by saying, “I would suspect [Biden] will continue to attend church as he has for many, many years.”

Psaki told Harper to stop talking while she took a question from another journalist, which Harper included in the article too.

The byline on the column identifies him as “White House journalist Dr. Anthony Harper.”

The newsletter also apparently has no problem with publishing the n-word in a letter to the editor that opens with “The ‘critical race theory’ is hogwash.” The letter – which Harper did not have to publish – says that many lynchings of Black people were actually suicides, citing no source.

It also contains a longer piece taken from the far-right website OneNewsNow complaining about the alleged harassment of Jack Phillips – the homophobic owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop who refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple – from “the Left and its LGBTQ activists.”

The article refers to the victims of Phillips’s discrimination as a “visibly frustrated homosexual couple” who mounted a harassment campaign against the polite “Christian baker” and says that “the LGBTQ community” wants to “take away Christians’ First Amendment rights.”

InterMountain Christian News, despite the noticeable lack of news, has a “Statement of Faith and Practice,” usually something that non-profit organizations, churches, and religious schools have. The statement denounces evolution, abortion, and homosexuality.

“We believe homosexuality to be a sin and believe only in the Biblical view of marriage which is between one man and one woman,” the statement says.

The previous edition of InterMountain Christian News had fewer racial slurs but was also very focused on Psaki, accusing her of refusing to take a picture with him in March 2021 because of COVID-19 concerns and called her out for her refusal to answer his questions, often outside of press briefings.

One of those questions is about how LGBTQ rights are anti-semitic. He referred to a statement from the far-right Coalition for Jewish Values that denounced the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing anti-discrimination legislation. The group called the bill “a disgraceful attack upon Jewish Biblical beliefs.”

Biden supports the Equality Act, and Harper wrote that Psaki wouldn’t address his accusation of anti-semitism while they were at an event. He then took a selfie with her in the background and published it in the newsletter, perhaps as proof that he was near her, although it is not clear that she is actually in the photo.

Now he’s asking for an investigation into how the Biden administration is “singling me out” by requiring him to be escorted while in the White House. He even filed a formal complaint with Psaki’s office, asking her to investigate her office’s actions.

“I’ve had unrestricted access without an escort to the Press Secretary’s office for almost five years but now after my continuing and challenging Human Rights violation questions, they are giving me this problem,” he said, possibly referring to his question about how LGBTQ equality is anti-semitic.

White House reporters from better-known media outlets said that Harper was only banned from “floating” around Psaki’s office. Several said that they had never heard of Harper, and the ones who knew who he was said they never read anything by him. Some pointed out that he asked bizarre questions about former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during press briefings when he got a chance.

Harper also got attention in 2019 when he took to the podium in the White House briefing room to sing “O Holy Night.”

Harper said that he is going to apply for a White House press pass that will give him more access in October and that he hopes he will not have “any problems with that.”

According to Salon, he shouted “Rare earth elements!” at the end of the interview.

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