White House Press Conference Descends into Chaos After Reporter Confronts Karine Jean-Pierre

The White House daily press conference descended into chaos after an African reporter confronted White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for not calling on him to ask a question for what he claimed was seven months.

Simon Ateba, White House correspondent for Today News Africa, confronted Jean-Pierre at the beginning of a press conference where the White House had brought in actors to talk about mental health.

He was scolded by fellow reporters, who apologized to the actors.

However, after the actors left the room, Ateba tried again, and reporters shouted him down.

Jeff Mason, a Reuters correspondent and former White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) president, told Ateba, “If you have grievances, you should bring them to her later. Right now this is for the entire press corps and the press corps is tired of dealing with this.”

Ateba responded that he had sat there in the briefing room for seven months without a question.

Brian Karem, a White House reporter who first gained public attention for an outburst at Trump White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told Ateba, “Mind your manners when you’re in here.”

Today News Africa reporter Simon Ateba (C) interrupts as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (not pictured), begins the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 20, 2023. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

“If you have a problem you bring it up afterwards, but you are impinging on everybody in here who is only trying to do their job,” he said.

Associated Press correspondent Zeke Miller, also a former WHCA president, apologized to Jean-Pierre for the disruption.

“I just want to express our apologies from the press corps to the folks watching at home for the display you saw earlier. Our responsibility is to them,” he said.

After the press conference, current WHCA president Tamara Keith sent a memo to WHCA members saying the “extreme breakdown of decorum…created a hostile work environment for everyone in that room.”

Ateba slammed his fellow colleagues for rebuking him.

He tweeted, “Instead of standing for me, @whca @tamarakeithNPR of @NPR attacks me in letter to her WHCA members.”

He posted a screenshot of her memo.

Ateba also slammed Miller.

“He believes he’s better than me. But he’s not. He apologized to @PressSec Karine Jean-Pierre today for discriminating against me for seven months,” Ateba tweeted.

“In the past 7 months, as I sat behind him, I watched him him ask those questions at every press briefing, he became entitled, believing that he’s better than those who get no questions. This is insane!” Ateba wrote.

Ateba tweeted that he would appear on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight to share what happened.

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