Journalist Simon Ateba yells at Karine Jean-Pierre for not giving him a question in seven months.
The White House press briefing devolved into chaos after a reporter claimed Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was "making a mockery of the First Amendment."
On Monday, the cast of "Ted Lasso," including Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham, joined the briefing to speak about mental health. With the Hollywood cast standing awkwardly behind Jean-Pierre, Today News Africa Chief White House Correspondent Simon Ateba began yelling.
Ateba appeared to be frustrated over Jean-Pierre’s choice of reporters to call on and claimed that he had been unable to ask a question in seven months. The reporter repeatedly claimed that the White House discriminated against him and other reporters.
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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a daily news briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on March 8, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
"This is not China. This is not Russia. What you are doing you’re making a mockery of the First Amendment," Ateba said at one point.
Throughout the rant, a woman offscreen repeatedly yelled "decorum," urging Ateba to quiet down. Attempting to make light of the situation, Karine Jean-Pierre turned around to the Lasso cast and said, "fun times, welcome, guys," before asking Ateba if he was "going to behave."
The White House press corps members appeared agitated with Ateba, grumbling and sporadically yelling at him to cease his vocal displeasure with Jean-Pierre’s conduct.
Several times, Jean-Pierre stopped her comments and stood quietly as she waited for Ateba to finish speaking.
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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a press briefing at the White House on February 23, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Ateba continued his outburst even after the cast of Lasso left the room. He suggested that reporters in the front of the room were offered many opportunities in the room to speak, while others in the back were rarely called on, if at all.
One press corps member said they were "tired of dealing" with Ateba’s attitude, while another said, "it’s not just about you, Simon."
"Don’t make assumptions about what the rest of us do, mind your manners when you’re in here and if you have a problem, you bring it up afterward, but you are impinging on everybody in here who’s only trying to do their job," another reporter chimed in.
Eventually, Ateba settled down after a large swathe of the press corps spoke out against him.
Jean-Pierre later said this about the incident: "As you know, this is the White House press briefing room. 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 decades before me."
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Later in the briefing, AP reporter Zeke Miller used a "point of personal privilege" to apologize to Jean-Pierre on behalf of the press corps for Ateba’s conduct.
"I just wanted to express our apologies to the press corps, to the folks watching at home for the display you saw earlier. Our responsibility to them, we’re here to ask questions on their behalf, to hold their government accountable, but they can’t all be here. This isn’t about us," the reporter said.
Ateba has become known for frequent clashes with Jean-Pierre.
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Jean-Pierre rebuked Ateba in December 2022 for speaking out of turn after he asked why Daily Caller White House correspondent Diana Glebova couldn't ask Dr. Anthony Fauci a question about the origins of COVID-19.
Jean-Pierre, Ateba said, has refused to meet with him until 2024, and he believes she is ducking him in an attempt to avoid tough questions.
Fox News’ Ashley Carnahan contributed to this report.
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