Out White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had to lecture the White House press corps after one reporter threw a tantrum at yesterday’s press briefing. After he caused a scene, he went on Fox News and made a lewd joke about Jean-Pierre.
For the better part of a year now, Simon Ateba of Today News Africa – where he appears to be the only writer – has been speaking out of turn at the White House press briefings and causing several commotions because he doesn’t get to ask what he feels is enough questions. The press secretary generally allows larger news organizations – even Fox News – to ask questions more often.
At the start of the press briefing, Jean-Pierre welcomed the cast of Ted Lasso into the press room to talk about mental health issues. But she couldn’t even introduce the guests before Ateba started shouting.
“Karine, before- before you begin-” he said.
“No, no, no, no, nope that’s not- We’re not doing this,” she said. “We’re not doing this.”
This was far from the first time he had shouted at her in the press room, and she knew where this was going.
“I would like to request that you call on everyone from across the room,” Ateba shouted. “You’ve been discriminating against me and discriminating against some people in the briefing room.”
“This is the U.S., this is not China, this is not Russia.”
She turned to the cast of Ted Lasso and said, “Fun times. Welcome, guys.” Other press corps members tried to get Ateba to pipe down as he kept on shouting. She waited for silence before she introduced the cast.
Ateba continued to rant after the cast left.
“You can’t keep discriminating against some people in the briefing room because you don’t like them and you don’t like their questions,” he said, not letting Jean-Pierre respond.
“The rest of us are here too, pal,” another reporter responded.
“The press corps is tired of dealing with this,” another said.
That’s when Jean-Pierre lectured Ateba like a teacher.
“Guys, as you all know — many of you know, this is the White House Press Briefing Room,” she said. “A historic room. A room that should have decorum. A room where folks should respect their colleagues and respect the guests that are here.”
“And I understand that there’s going to be give-and-take. That’s the way the press briefing has gone for — for decades before me. And I will always, always respect that.”
Ateba started shouting again about how she has been “discriminating against me” by not letting him ask a question for eight months, he claimed, even though she did let him ask a question in December and he refused to let her answer it.
“So we’re going to — so we’re either going to continue the briefing or we can just end the briefing right here,” she said before introducing Admiral John Kirby.
Much later in the press briefing, Zeke Miller of the Associated Press apologized for Ateba.
“First, a moment of personal privilege here,” Miller said. “I just want to express our apologies in the press corps to the folks watching at home for the display we saw earlier. Our responsibility is to them. We’re here to ask questions on their behalf, to hold their government accountable because they can’t all be here. You know, this isn’t about us.”
But it wasn’t over for Ateba, who appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show that night to complain about how he was treated at the press briefing. And he decided to make a lewd joke about Jean-Pierre.
“The First Amendment says that I have the right to ask questions,” he said, not entirely understanding the First Amendment. “The press secretary doesn’t need to like me, date me, marry me, have two Black children with me, she doesn’t need all that.”
Jean-Pierre is married to CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux and they have a daughter.