Politics

Karine Jean-Pierre lays down the law as White House press briefing descends into chaos

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a press briefing on Friday, July 30, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a press briefing on Friday, July 30, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House.Photo: Official White House Photo by Erin Scott

Out Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre laid down the law in the White House press briefing yesterday as two reporters shouted questions at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci, calling them “disrespectful” as the briefing room descended into chaos.

Jean-Pierre called on CNN’s Jeremy Diamond to ask Dr. Fauci a question when a reporter with the far-right website Daily Caller – Diana Glebova – started shouting a question as well.

“Hold on one second,” Jean-Pierre said to Diamond before she went after Glebova. “We have a process here.  I’m not calling out on people who yell.”

“And you’re being,  you’re being, you’re being disrespectful to your colleagues and you’re being disrespectful to our guest,” she continued as Glebova tried to complain about not getting a question in. ” I will not call on you if you yell. And also, you’re taking time off the clock because Dr. Fauci has to leave in a couple of minutes.”

“I’m done! I’m not going- I’m not getting into a back-and-forth with you,” she said as Glebova tried to debate the process with her.

But that scolding wasn’t enough to settle down the rightwing of the White House press corps as Simon Ateba – who works for Today News Africa – and Glebova both shouted about how her question was “valid” as CNN’s Diamond tried to ask his question in a chaotic scene.

“Stop being disrespectful,” Jean-Pierre can be heard saying over the chaos as Ateba tries to explain to Jean-Pierre how to do her job: “You complete the press briefing, you need to call from people across the room. She has a valid question.  She’s asking about the origin of COVID.”

That brought Jean-Pierre back to the lectern.

“I hear your question, but we’re not doing this the way you want it,” she told Ateba.

“It’s not about me!” Ateba protested.

“It is!” Jean-Pierre shot back. “I’m done.  Simon, I’m done.”

“I’m done with you right now.”

Then she told CNN’s Diamond to ask his question again while Ateba kept shouting for a bit, but Diamond did get to finally ask his question about COVID vaccine boosters.

Later, on Twitter, Ateba bragged about causing chaos at the press briefing.

“I asked myself where is [Jean-Pierre’s] heart?” he wrote.

Glebova thanked Ateba and the conservative New York Post‘s Steven Nelson for yelling at Jean-Pierre with her.

“There’s finally some pushback to the administration’s narrative,” she wrote.

The origins of COVID-19 are complicated and murky and have been the subject of numerous rightwing conspiracy theories involving Dr. Fauci. Frankly, the question will likely never be settled, and the disease’s origins definitely won’t be discovered in a question during a press briefing about “the importance of getting your updated COVID vaccine shot ahead of the holidays.”

Congressional Republicans – many of whom opposed simple measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic like wearing masks in crowded buildings and vaccine mandates – are promising to hold hearings on the origins of COVID-19 and Dr. Fauci has said that he will testify.

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