A White House briefing during which Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba called out Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for not calling on him for seven months turned chaotic when other reporters tried to shout Ateba down.
The briefing, which included actors who were brought in to talk about mental health, turned into a free-for-all when Ateba said, "It has been seven months" since he got to ask a question. "This is not China. This is not Russia. What you are doing you’re making a mockery of the First Amendment," he protested, adding that he was being "discriminated against."
Ateba was told to let the actors from "Ted Lasso" talk, but after they left he continued his protest.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 20, 2023
Other reporters began to scold Ateba, including Jeff Mason of Reuters who said, “If you have grievances, you should bring them to her later. Right now this is for the entire press corps and the press corps is tired of dealing with this.”
Brian Karem of CNN told Ateba, “Mind your manners when you’re in here.”
Ateba responded to them that he had repeatedly emailed Jean-Pierre with his concerns but "all my emails have been ignored."
Zeke Miller of the Associated Press later apologized to Jean-Pierre in a bizarre display of what Tucker Carlson that evening called "sucking up to power."
Carlson said the reporters who shouted Ateba down "should be ashamed of themselves," adding that it is their job to get the truth, not defend the White House or "promote a TV show" during a press briefing.
Ateba appeared on Carlson's show Monday evening to discuss what had happened.
He said that the first Amendment gives him the right to ask questions, but that Jean-Pierre has refused to give him that right, even when he submitted questions to her outside of the briefing and sought to meet with her about her refusal to call on him once in seven months.
He pointed out that both Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden had gone or were about to go to Africa, which would make his questions timely, but still Jean-Pierre had refused to address them.
"What happened to me today is a total disgrace," he said, adding that he feels he is looked down on by the White House.