A reporter from Today News Africa got into a testy exchange with White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday and accused her of lying about Omicron variant travel restrictions.
During the press briefing, Simon Ateba interrupted another White House correspondent’s question for Psaki. At one point during an exchange, Ateba states, “You are saying something that is false,” in regard to the White House’s travel restrictions on countries in Africa, including South Africa. (RELATED: Biden Announces New Travel Restrictions From South Africa, Seven Other Countries Due To New COVID Variant)
“Simon, I answered a question on this. Let’s let Patsy ask a question,” Psaki said.
Ateba continued to interject, however Psaki replied sharply, “It’s not effective to scream over your colleagues in here.”
Ateba was not called on by Psaki for the duration of the briefing, according to the New York Post.
Psaki had a previous interaction with Ateba on Wednesday, as he tried questioning White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci about travel restrictions for 8 countries when only two of them had reported cases of the COVID-19 variant Omicron. Psaki appeared to call on another reporter just before Ateba asked his question.
“There are zero cases of COVID — of Omicron in Zimbabwe, in Namibia, in Lesotho, in Mozambique,” Ateba asked. “What justifies imposing a travel ban on countries that have zero cases of the Omicron variant?” (RELATED: First Known Case Of Omicron Variant Identified In US)
“You know, that’s a very good question and important question, and we did struggle with that,” Fauci answered. “But we wanted to see if we could buy time temporarily, so I do hope that this gets sorted out and lifted before it has any significant impact on your country.”
The Omicron variant was recently discovered in South Africa, prompting the Biden administration to implement travel restrictions on South Africa and Botswana, among other nations.