Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki reprimanded an African news site reporter after repeatedly interrupting her and other reporters during her latest press conference on Friday.
Simon Ateba, who runs the Today News Africa website, repeatedly shouted ‘Would you like to answer a question from the back of the room?’ he interrupts his press colleagues and Psaki.
Ateba first interrupted Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller, then started yelling over ABC News reporter Mary Bruce as she tried to ask a question.
Bruce, her frustration apparent, replied, “Simon, please stop,” but Ateba was undeterred and repeated his demands.
“If you can spread the questions from across the room and from all of us in the back of the room,” Ateba shouted.
Simon Ateba, who runs the Today News Africa website, repeatedly shouted ‘Would you like to answer a question from the back of the room?’ at Friday’s press conference
Psaki reprimanded Ateba, saying, “Simon, if you would respect your colleagues and other media reporters here, it would be greatly appreciated.”
Psaki intervened at this point, saying, “Simon, if you would respect your colleagues and other media reporters here, it would be greatly appreciated.”
“Go ahead, Mary,” she added, inviting the ABC reporter to continue with a question about the baby food shortage in the country.
While some of the White House press were annoyed by the disruption, One America News Network correspondent Chanel Rion shared a video of the incident, saying others shared Ateba’s frustration.
Rion, whose channel does not have an assigned seat in the briefing room, said in a tweet that Psaki has never appealed to her outlet and is only “accepting inquiries from a select few.”
While Ateba is not the most prominent among White House press corps, he has been drafted by Psaki and other officials in the past.
In February, for example, he asked Psaki about reports that she was planning to take a job at MSNBC after she left her White House position.
And at a briefing in March, Ateba took the lead by asking about the Biden administration’s response to Will Smith’s infamous Chris Rock blow at the Oscars.
White House communications director Kate Bedingfield replied that President Joe Biden had not seen the Oscars and had no official comment on the matter.
At a briefing in March, Ateba took the lead by asking about the Biden administration’s response to Will Smith’s infamous Chris Rock slap at the Oscars.
Born in Cameroon and having worked for the press in Nigeria for a long time, Ateba runs the Today News Africa news site and is a White House correspondent
Still, Ateba was far from Psaki’s usual sparring partner, a title that would best go to Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy, who had many heated conversations with her in the briefing room.
Doocy credited Psaki on Friday for dropping by at every Fox briefing, saying his time roasting her “probably made me a better reporter, and I’m grateful to her for that.”
Likewise, Psaki said this week that she will miss her exchanges with Doocy, saying “we have a very good professional relationship.”
MSNBC on Friday declined to deny that Psaki had signed a deal to become the new star host, after it was alleged that some employees were angry about her alleged hiring.
Psaki, 43, struggled to hold back tears during her final briefing, the end of a 16-month period during which she held 224 briefings — more than all four of Donald Trump’s press secretaries combined.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki bids farewell after her final daily White House press conference on May 13, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
On Friday night, an MSNBC spokesperson declined to confirm what is considered TV news’s worst-kept secret — that Psaki quit her prestigious job to pursue a career with the liberal network.
In April, news broke that she was in talks with several news outlets about a post-White House role, and it soon became apparent that she was in exclusive talks with MSNBC for a multimillion-dollar contract to run her own show.
Questions were asked about how she could continue to do her job impartially during contract negotiations with one of the media outlets she dealt with on a daily basis.
Psaki did not deny the rumors about the planned career switch during a press conference. She also did not go into details, but insisted that she had always acted ethically, and noted potential conflicts of interest with her bosses.
In early April, Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, made an impromptu phone call with agency staff in Washington — some of whom had complained to their superiors, CNN reported, that the preliminary hire tarnishes the NBC News brand.