Monday’s White House press briefing featuring the cast of “Ted Lasso” was interrupted by a reporter who insisted that he is never “called on.” Simon Ateba, a correspondent for Today News Africa, has clashed with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in the past. However, his latest outburst may have taken the cake.
Ateba claimed that he and other journalists were frequently “discriminated against” because of the kind of questions they want to ask: “It’s been seven months. You’ve not called on me. I’m saying that’s not right.”
Several other reporters came to the defense of Jean-Pierre, including columnist Brian Karem, who told Ateba to “mind your manners when you’re in here.” Karem then stated: “If you have a problem, you bring it up afterward. But you are impinging on everybody in here who is only trying to do their job.”
Shortly thereafter, Jean-Pierre held her own by directly telling Ateba the following, per The Hill:
“I understand that there’s going to be give and take. That’s the way the press briefing has gone for decades, before me and I will always, always respect that but what I will not, what I will not appreciate is disrespecting your colleagues and disrespecting guests who are here to talk, who were here to talk an incredibly important issue which is mental health. And what has just occurred this last 10, 15 minutes is unacceptable.”
Subsequently, Ateba then took his grievances to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. On Monday night’s episode, he stated: “The First Amendment says that I have the right to ask questions, to do my job.” But Ateba didn’t stop there. “The press secretary doesn’t need to like me, date me, marry me, have two Black children with me. She doesn’t need all that.
“She doesn’t even need to like my accent, doesn’t even need to like what I look like...where I come from. They look down on me. They don’t respect the First Amendment.” Ateba also mentioned that “when it happens to Jim Acosta of CNN, because they respect him [because] he’s white.” Ateba ultimately believes he has been ignored because he’s “Black...African...[and doesn’t] have money.”
Although Ateba may be justified in feeling ignored, he should have known that an outburst in the press briefing room wouldn’t conclude with his desired result. And as far as Tucker Carlson goes, Ateba also should have known that the Fox personality will do anything to help Black people humiliate other Black people.