The White House press room descended into chaos yesterday (some described it as hilarious chaos, but chaos nonetheless.) Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was trying to set up an innocuous PR event to promote mental health with the cast of the streaming sitcom “Ted Lasso” and reporter Simon Ateba of Today News Africa was having none of it.
Ateba is known for being one of the few among the fawning liberal press corps who actually asks tough questions, which is probably why Jean-Pierre has refused to call on him for seven months and counting. So he was understandably peeved that she refused to let him talk but devoted a whole press briefing to the cast of a sitcom, and he interrupted the happy talk. Jean-Pierre began shouting, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no” and repeating, “We’re not doing this! We’re not doing this!” over and over. Ateba shouted back, “You’re making a mockery of the First Amendment!”
The most telling moment came when Kelly O’Donnell of NBC News apologized to the actors on behalf of the Washington news establishment for this unseemly outbreak of actual journalism. Can you guess whose side she’s on?
While I would prefer it if everyone remained professional and kept the shouting confined to elementary school playgrounds, and think Ateba’s behavior may be questionable, his frustration is understandable. He told Tucker Carlson that Jean-Pierre refuses to answer his questions and refuses to meet privately with him, even when Biden is meeting with African leaders and he’s the White House reporter from Africa. He claims that because he’s not a wealthy, white, American reporter but a poor, black reporter from Africa, the White House looks down on him, stonewalls him and discriminates against him, and they show disrespect for the First Amendment.
I thought that Democrats were supposed to oppose all those things he just described. Well, aside from showing disrespect for the First Amendment.