White House correspondent Simon Ateba has accused Biden’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre of “discriminating” against him after she left a briefing room without answering his question.
Ateba, a Cameroonian journalist who runs the online news outlet Today News Africa, has repeatedly clashed with former White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Jean-Pierre in the past two years, accusing them of ignoring reporters in the back of the briefing room.
While journalists from major news outlets sit in the front of the room, those from less well-known and smaller organizations are usually seated in the aisle or the back of the room, as arranged by the White House Correspondents’ Association’s board.
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room has only 49 seats, and the press secretary is free to choose which reporters to call on, although TV networks and other large news outlets who sit at the front typically get called on more regularly. The first question traditionally goes to the Associated Press.
Ateba, who has long complained about the press secretary ignoring reporters at the back, is known to be one of the loudest journalists in the briefing room. In May, Psaki asked him to stop interrupting after he shouted questions at her during her final briefing.
“Why don’t you take questions from across the room? Because that’s not what you’ve done for the past 15 months,” Ateba asked, talking over another reporter, before Psaki told him: “Simon, if you can respect your colleagues and other media and reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated.”
In November, Ateba criticized Jean-Pierre for brushing off another reporter’s question about the origins of COVID-19 during Dr. Anthony Fauci‘s final briefing, shouting that she had “valid question about the origin of COVID.”
The increasingly tense situation between the journalist and Biden’s press secretary escalated on Thursday. Jean-Pierre walked out of the White House briefing room in visible frustration as Ateba continued talking over her, asking questions about next week’s U.S.-Africa summit, as she was attempting to reply to him.
“I literally just tried to answer your question, and you shut me down,” Jean-Pierre said, before deciding to end the press briefing prematurely and leave the room.
On Friday, Ateba made an appearance on Fox News‘s show Tucker Carlson Tonight, telling the TV host that it has been a “nightmare” to cover the White House while Jean-Pierre is press secretary.
“It’s been a disaster, a total catastrophe, a real nightmare covering the Biden White House. Right now, I’m the voice of Africa in the U.S.—but I can confirm that the level of discrimination against me and against African journalists in the White House is astounding, it’s disgraceful,” Ateba told Carlson, adding that he didn’t “have questions at the White House” for three months now.
“Even as President Biden is about to receive 50 African heads of state in D.C. for the U.S.-African summit, she didn’t give us even a single question. I’ve been trying for the past three months.”
The journalist went on to accuse Jean-Pierre of discriminating against him for his accent. “I sound different. I wasn’t born here. I was born in Cameroon. I speak French. I speak different languages. I don’t have the American accent. I’ve tried. I’ve failed and I’ve decided I’ll stick with my accent,” Ateba told Carlson.
“I’m an immigrant, and she doesn’t like that,” he added.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek.
Newsweek has reached out to Ateba for comment.
The post African Journalist Accuses Press Secretary Jean-Pierre of ‘Discrimination’ appeared first on Newsweek.