White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre promptly ended a news briefing Thursday after refusing to take reporter Simon Ateba’s question.
Ateba is a Cameroonian journalist and the publisher of Today News Africa.
National Security Counsel spokesman John Kirby had been speaking at the news conference, giving updates on the cease-fire in Israel and the Biden administration’s continued aid to Ukraine.
Kirby also spoke about Angola President João Lourenço’s visit to the White House on Thursday afternoon.
But when it was time for questions, and after several other reporters had already been called upon, Ateba was quickly shut down after trying to speak.
JUST IN: White House Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre ends press briefing after refusing to answer a question from an African journalist pic.twitter.com/xuR0XpdzEg
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) November 30, 2023
“Can I ask you a follow-up on Angola?” Ateba said to Kirby.
As an off-camera female voice began speaking over him, the African reporter pushed back.
“It is so surprising that you don’t take — you are receiving an African leader, and you can’t take a question from an African journalist?” he said.
Jean-Pierre then dismissed Kirby and retook the lectern.
“We can end this briefing if it’s not going to be respectful here,” she said.
The press secretary called on another reporter, but Ateba asked his question again.
That’s when Jean-Pierre abruptly ended the meeting.
Ateba later shared his frustration about the press secretary’s conduct in a post on social media.
“It’s a shame that @WhiteHouse @PressSec Karine Jean-Pierre decided to abruptly end the press briefing rather than take a question from me after a year,” he wrote. “Even when President Biden is hosting an African leader like the President of Angola today, the White House does not take a question from the African journalist in the room.
“I am highly disappointed and even heartbroken that in the citadel of democracy, and in the most powerful house in the world, I’m being discriminated against for a year for trying to do my job while journalist colleagues remain silent.
“May God help me.”
It’s a shame that @WhiteHouse @PressSec Karine Jean-Pierre decided to abruptly end the press briefing rather than take a question from me after a year. Even when President Biden is hosting an African leader like the President of Angola today, the White House does not take a… pic.twitter.com/O8YfrzGa0L
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) November 30, 2023
Earlier this year, the White House sent a letter to Ateba threatening to revoke his press pass because he “impeded a June 26, 2023, press briefing and interrupted the Press Secretary.”
The letter, which Ateba posted on social media, also cited other “incidents.”
We strongly support the important role that members of the press play in covering the White… pic.twitter.com/7EbS9HDpIW
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) July 11, 2023
At the June media briefing, Ateba had simply told Jean-Pierre she had been avoiding his questions and “discriminating” against him for nine months.
“If this continues we’re going to end the press briefing. … You’re being incredibly rude. … You’re talking over your colleague. You’re talking over your colleague,” she said.
She then called on another reporter.