White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre abruptly ended her press briefing Thursday without taking a single question after Today News Africa White House correspondent Simon Ateba repeatedly confronted her.
Ateba interrupted the briefing to demand Jean-Pierre answer his question about President Joe Biden hosting Angolan President Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco at the White House, causing an uproar in the briefing room.
“It’s so, so crazy that you don’t take a question from an African journalist,” Ateba told the press secretary.
“Okay, we can end this briefing,” Jean-Pierre responded, threatening to walk out if Ateba did not quiet down.
Several exasperated reporters began confronting Ateba.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, who had been taking questions prior to Jean-Pierre, left the podium during Ateba’s confrontation. (RELATED: Simon Ateba Says He’s Unsure Whether The White House Will Assassinate Him)
“Alright, we can end this briefing if it’s not gonna be respectful here,” she said before calling on another reporter.
“That’s what I’m saying, there will be an African leader, and you don’t take questions,” Ateba continued.
Jean-Pierre then shut her binder and walked out of the briefing room, leaving the other reporters frustrated. Some reporters visibly threw their hands up in the air. Another can be overheard exclaiming “oh my God.”
It’s a shame that @WhiteHouse @PressSec Karine Jean-Pierre decided to abruptly end the press briefing rather than take a question from me after a year. Even when President Biden is hosting an African leader like the President of Angola today, the White House does not take a… pic.twitter.com/O8YfrzGa0L
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) November 30, 2023
Ateba has a long history of clashing with Jean-Pierre and former White House press secretary Jen Psaki for not calling on him or taking his questions. Jean-Pierre previously stormed out of the briefing room last December as he confronted her on not taking his question the last U.S. Africa Summit.
The Today News Africa reporter sued Jean-Pierre in August for revoking his hard pass, which grants reporters full access to White House events and press conferences. The lawsuit alleges that Jean-Pierre and the Secret Service are violating his First Amendment right to freedom of the press and the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.
“I was simply doing my job for asking the right questions, for asking the tough questions,” Ateba said when the lawsuit was filed. “Without freedom of the press, there cannot be democracy. Without freedom of the press, there cannot be freedom. Without freedom of the press, there cannot be a free and fair election. And I will keep fighting, I will keep doing my job. No president, including President Joe Biden, should be allowed to dictate who covers him.”
Ateba derailed Psaki’s final briefing in May 2022 for continuing to not call on him. The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) then threatened expulsion or suspension in a letter sent to Ateba, stating no reporter has a right to be called on or to prevent their colleagues from asking questions.
He notably disrupted the cast of Ted Lasso during their guest appearance in March and sparred with the press secretary as she refused to answer former Daily Caller White House correspondent Diana Glebova’s question on the origins of COVID during Dr. Anthony Fauci’s final briefing.
Chaos breaks out in the White House press briefing room pic.twitter.com/UGvMlhQ0eK
— Diana Glebova (@DianaGlebova) March 20, 2023