A journalist who has frequently clashed with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is facing the potential loss of his privileges to participate in press briefings. The warning came after the journalist repeatedly interrupted the meetings, but he is protesting against the action taken against him.
Simon Ateba, a correspondent for Today News Africa, received an official warning from the White House, which stated that his hard pass could be revoked or suspended. The letter listed several instances where Ateba had interrupted, attempted to talk over, or heckled others in the room. Ateba shared the letter on Twitter and accused The Washington Post of publishing a “hit piece” with the sole intention of preventing him from renewing his hard pass.
BREAKING: Following @washingtonpost hit piece meant to prevent me from renewing my hard pass, the @WhiteHouse and @PressSec office just sent me 'A WARNING LETTER." Here it is:— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) July 11, 2023
We strongly support the important role that members of the press play in covering the White… pic.twitter.com/7EbS9HDpIW
The document, which lacks any official letterhead or signature, provides a list of several instances in which Ateba exhibited disruptive behavior. Some of these incidents date back to last year:
1. On May 13, 2022, Ateba repeatedly interrupted other reporters who were seeking additional information about baby formula.
2. On December 8, 2022, he forcefully demanded an answer to his question, cutting off others in the process. When the press secretary attempted to respond, he shouted over her. He continued to disrupt the proceedings even as the press secretary moved on to another reporter.
3. On March 20, 2023, Ateba engaged in a shouting match in the press room, creating a hostile work environment for everyone present.
4. On June 26, 2023, despite receiving a notice on May 5 that outlined the expectations for reporters allowed in the press room and warned of potential consequences for continued disruptions, Ateba persistently interrupted the meeting. He continued this behavior even after the press secretary called on another correspondent.
Tucker Carlson from Fox News criticized Jean-Pierre’s handling of the March 20 incident. He invited Ateba, who maintains that he is facing discrimination, to appear on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in order to defend his outbursts. During the show, the Today News Africa reporter seized the opportunity to argue that the administration is not upholding the principles of the First Amendment. He claimed that both past and present press secretaries have consistently disregarded him and other lesser-known reporters. Ateba expressed his disappointment, stating to Carlson, “What happened to me today… it’s a total disgrace.”