Simon Ateba is the White House reporter for Today News Africa and often disrupts briefings. He said that press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre hasn’t called on him to ask a question in “seven months” and that he’s right to be frustrated because of the First Amendment.
He then made an odd comment to Mr Carlson about having children with the press secretary.
“The First Amendment says that I have the right to ask questions, to do my job,” he told Mr Carlson, despite that it doesn’t mean a press secretary is required to answer all questions from reporters or call on every single reporter attending a briefing to ask a question.
“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,” Mr Ateba told Mr Carslon.
“She doesn’t even need to like my accent, doesn’t even need to like what I look like” or “where I come from. They look down on me. They don’t respect the First Amendment,” he added.
Mr Ateba said his situation was similar was that of Jim Acosta of CNN who often garnered attention for having terse interactions with members of the Trump administration, including former President Donald Trump, who frequently called the media “the enemy of the people”.
“When it happens to Jim Acosta of CNN, because they respect him, he’s white” and “he works for CNN. I’m Black, I’m African,” and “I don’t have money,” he said.
“They don’t treat me the same way,” he added.
On Monday, Mr Ateba was called out by other reporters for disrupting a White House briefing with the cast of the Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso. They said he should quiet down and take up his issues with the press team in private.
Mr Carlson said Reuters White House Correspondent Jeff Mason “should be ashamed of himself” and that he and the other reporters “took the White House side against [Mr Ateba] is really one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen”.
“I was shocked by this, as cynical as I am,” he added.
As Mr Ateba tried to shout a question on Monday, Ms Jean-Pierre said, “we’re not doing this”.
Mr Mason tried to get Mr Ateba to stop.
“It’s been seven months,” Mr Ateba said. “You’ve not called on me… This is not China. This is not Russia. This is the United States.”
“The rest of us are here too, pal,” one reporter told Mr Ateba.
“If you have grievances, you should bring them to her later,” Mr Mason added.
“I have done that,” Mr Ateba said. “All my emails have been ignored.”
“And the press corps is tired of dealing with this,” Mr Mason said.
Mr Carlson slammed the reporters for pushing back against Mr Ateba.
“Outrageous doesn’t even describe what we just played for you,” the host said after broadcasting a clip of the exchange. “So here you have the White House press secretary whose job it is to answer questions from journalists on behalf of the entire American population hijacking the event to promote a TV show and then screaming at a guy who wants his questions answered.”
“And then the other shills in the room don’t take the side of their fellow journalist, but take the side of the lady at the front to whom they were actually beholden and try and shut down Simon Ateba,” Mr Carlson added. “Who did that? This is a partial list that would include Jeff Mason of Reuters who should be ashamed, Brian Karem of CNN, Associated Press correspondent Zeke Miller.”
Mr Karem is the White House correspondent for Playboy magazine and a political analyst for CNN.
Mr Ateba was widely criticised by Twitter users for disrupting the briefing.
“Trump provocateur @simonateba - who poses as a news reporter - deliberately interrupts White House press briefing on mental health. A) he should be listening to this one B) time @whca to pull his credentials,” broadcaster Keith Olbermann tweeted.
“So, who is this rowdy reporter? I feel like he has caused problems in the WH press briefing room many times over the past two years. Really rambunctious and disrespectful behavior. I’m glad that other journalists took control of the room. He’s lucky to still be credentialed,” Twitter user Russell Drew added.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald took the side of Mr Ateba.
“So pathetic how WH journalists united to defend Karine Jean-Pierre -- the person to whom they’re supposed to be adversarial -- and attacked a fellow journalist @simonateba. One of them even *apologized* to Karine, because they were so excited to see the cast of a TV show,” he said.
2020 Biden delegate Victor Shi tweeted: “Simon Ateba should be banned from the White House press briefing room after shouting & yelling at Karine Jean-Pierre for no reason. He’s a total embarrassment to journalists. And thank goodness for Brian Karem who shut him up so effectively. What a legend.”
“It’s no wonder Simon Ateba got kicked out of the WH correspondents’ association. He’s unbecoming of a journalist. Totally inappropriate,” he added.
“He should get his press credentials revoked immediately and shouldn’t be a journalist. Period,” Mr Shi said.
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