Psaki shuts down journalist repeatedly shouting questions over his colleagues during her final briefing: ‘Simon, please stop!’

Simon Ateba, chief White House correspondent for Today News Africa, reprimanded for behaviour

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Saturday 14 May 2022 09:03
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Psaki fights back tears during final briefing as White House press secretary

Jen Psaki was forced to shut down a journalist who was shouting questions over his colleagues during her final White House briefing.

As Joe Biden’s press secretary began to take questions from reporters, Simon Ateba, chief White House correspondent for Today News Africa, began yelling to get her attention from the back of the briefing room.

“Why don’t you take questions from across the room?” Ateba asked as Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked Ms Psaki about the baby formula shortage.

“Why don’t you take questions from across the room? Because that’s not what you’ve done for the past 15 months,” Ateba continued.

A few minutes later, Ateba again tried to get the outgoing press secretary’s attention.

“Jen, can I ask you a question from the back?” he could be heard repeatedly asking.

The interruption became so disruptive, that Tamara Keith of NP turned around and asked Ateba, “please, stop.”

But when he continued to interrupt, Ms Psaki, who is being replaced by Karine Jean-Pierre next week, got involved.

“Simon, if you can respect your colleagues and other media and reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated,” she said.

Reporters in the coveted front rows of the briefing room, representing CNN, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, Reuters and the Associated Press, traditionally get most of the questions during briefings, often to the frustration of colleagues sitting further back in the room.

Following Ateba’s outburst, Peter Alexander of NBC News said he would limit himself to two questions to ensure other journalists got an opportunity to question Ms Psaki for a final time.

Ateba later took to Twitter and posted: “All humans are equal, all humans deserve to be treated with love and care, all humans deserve to be given opportunities.

“Elevating some over others is awful. No matter who the person is, educated, illiterate, black, white or brown, they should all be given opportunities.”

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