White House Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Kirby snapped at a White House reporter as he derailed Thursday’s briefing.
Today News Africa chief White House correspondent Simon Ateba began asking questions as Kirby called on another reporter, leading the Biden administration spokesperson to step in.
“Simon, Simon … sir, I’m gonna call on this man. And sir, listen now, I’ve been polite to you, but I expect a little bit of respect in return,” Kirby said. “You know where we are? This is the White House press briefing room, and you need to be more respectful. I’m going to call on this reporter.”
As the reporter attempted to ask a question, Ateba can be heard continuing to speak for a few more seconds, before quieting down.
Ateba received a warning from the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) after derailing former White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s final briefing May 13, where he talked over two reporters. Psaki stepped in and asked Ateba to respect his fellow reporters in the briefing room. (RELATED: ‘You Are Saying Something That Is False’: Reporter Simon Ateba Explodes On Psaki In Tense Exchange)
“Simon, please stop,” she said. “Simon, please show some respect for everyone else in the room.” A reporter then attempted to ask Psaki a question but continued to be interrupted by Ateba.
WHCA President and CBS News Radio White House correspondent Steven Portnoy threatened to expel Ateba if he behaved in that manner again in a May 16 letter. Ateba publicly stated he received the warning with a “heavy heart,” alleging Psaki ignored him in the briefing room.
“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 said.
“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,” he continued.