‘It’s Disgusting’: Reporter Hits Back After WHCA Threatens To Expel Him For Interrupting Psaki’s Last Briefing

[Screenshot/YouTube/Fox News]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Today News Africa White House correspondent Simon Ateba hit back at the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) threatening to suspend or expel him for interrupting Friday’s White House press briefing.

Ateba derailed White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s last briefing as he talked over two reporters, including Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller. After one of the reporters confronted the Today Africa News reporter, Psaki stepped in and ordered him to respect the fellow White House reporters.

White House Correspondents Association President and CBS News Radio White House correspondent Steven Portnoy addressed Ateba’s interruptions in a Monday email obtained by the Daily Caller threatening to enact their right to suspend him from the briefing room.

“Your disruptive behavior at last Friday’s briefing interrupted your colleagues and reflected poorly on the press corps,” he said. “There is no right of any reporter to be called on by any official. Preventing your colleagues from asking their questions is no way to seek relief,” Portnoy wrote. “We note that you have been granted status as an Associate Member of our organization. With that comes responsibility to act in a collegial manner with your fellow WHCA members.”

“If you again demonstrate disrespect for your colleagues in the manner you did last Friday, the WHCA Board will act on behalf of the collective,” he continued. “I am pasting Article X of our bylaws for your reference.”

The bylaws state that the Executive Board has the power to suspend of expel any member of the WHCA and must notify the person 30 days prior to a hearing held regarding their behavior.

The White House correspondent said he received the email with a “heavy heart” and labeled himself the victim of the incident. He further noted the WCHA’s hostility began after he questioned President Joe Biden’s administration’s handling of the Omicron variant back in November.

“I am the victim here and I am being treated so unfairly by WHCA,” he said in a statement obtained by the Daily Caller. “It is sad and it is heartbreaking. America is the greatest country in the world and no country comes even close. Here in the United States, press freedom is respected, or so I thought, or so I was made to believe.”

He also alleged Psaki ignored his questions and did not meet with him in the lower press, yet is “perceived as disruptive” when he attempts to ask a question. (RELATED: ‘You Are Saying Something That Is False’: Reporter Simon Ateba Explodes On Psaki In Tense Exchange) 

“I have sacrificed everything for journalism,” he continued. “I have done no other job across various continents. I have been arrested, detained, accused of being a spy for Boko Haram while doing an investigative report on Nigerian refugees in Chad and Cameroon. I have been attacked by pirates on the Gulf of Guinea, kidnapped from a car in Lagos, dumped in the woods and left for dead.”

“Am I not worth asking a question at least once a month? Am I not being in the room when President Biden receives President Kenyatta of Kenya? Am I less? Is that what press freedom is?”

Ateba responded to reports of his behavior in a Saturday piece, saying his disruption is a reaction to the discrimination faced inside the briefing room. He attempted for Psaki to hear him out at her final briefing, but instead got “shut down,” he said.

“The true story is that of discrimination, that of looking down on some people, ignoring them, behaving as if they don’t have anything to say even when Africa is being discussed in the room, the true story is about perpetuating inequality, elevating some people over others, preaching equity loudly to the country but practicing something different in the briefing room,” he wrote.

“It is a horrible story of open discrimination and I just wanted her to be different on her last day, to take questions from across the room, to give a voice to the people she did not call on for 15 months.”

Breaking Points co-host Sagaar Enjeti came to Ateba’s defense, saying reporters typically “screamed like rabid banshees” in the briefing room and were never threatened expulsion.

“When I was in the WCHA people literally screamed like rabid banshees to get called on,” he said. “Once one even played audio of crying migrant kids while an official was speaking. I don’t remember any of them being threatened with expulsion. Probably because they worked for the MSM [mainstream media].”