News Africa reporter put on notice after tussle with Psaki over ‘disgusting’ special treatment for MSM


A reporter who caused a disruptive scene during last Friday’s White House press briefing has been put on notice that he will be expelled from the press corps if he does it again after he mixed it up with Jen Psaki on the day of her grand finale behind the podium.

Simon Ateba, the chief White House correspondent for Today News Africa who has frequently jousted with Psaki, was upset that he wasn’t being called on from his spot near the back of the room, venting his frustration that reporters from domestic mainstream media outlets who were seated in the front got to ask their questions.

Even though Ateba’s behavior was relatively mild to what the press secretaries under former President Donald J. Trump had to endure from the disrespectful gaggle of hecklers led by CNN’s Jim Acosta, the warning has been issued and he faces an ouster if he isn’t sufficiently deferential to new top flack Karine Jean-Pierre.

During the contentious exchange, Ateba repeatedly interrupted his colleagues, one of whom was trying to get an answer on the administration’s response to the baby formula shortage, drawing an admonishment from Psaki.

“Simon, if you could respect your colleagues and other media and reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated,” she said.

But Ateba wouldn’t be deterred, talking over ABC News reporter Mary Bruce.

Ateba’s demeanor earned him a stern rebuke from CBS News Radio White House correspondent Steven Portnoy, who is president of the White House Correspondents Association.

“Your disruptive behavior at last Friday’s briefing interrupted your colleagues and reflected poorly on the press corps,” he said. “There is no right of any reporter to be called on by any official. Preventing your colleagues from asking their questions is no way to seek relief,” Portnoy wrote in an email seen by Mediaite which reported on the contents.

“We note that you have been granted status as an Associate Member of our organization,” Portnoy said. “With that comes a responsibility to act in a collegial manner with your fellow WHCA members,” he said. “If you again demonstrate disrespect for your colleagues in the manner you did last Friday, the WHCA Board will act on behalf of the collective. I am pasting Article X of our bylaws below for your reference.”

According to the WHCA bylaws in the referenced section:

“Suspension of Members The Executive Board shall have power to suspend or expel any member of this Association for due cause, as may be determined in the judgment of the Executive Board, provided that written notice of the consideration of such action, together with a statement of alleged causes, shall be given the member concerned thirty (30) days prior to the meeting of the Executive Board and further provided that a hearing shall be granted such member, if the member shall so desire; and further provided that the temporary suspension of a member may be ordered by a majority vote of all members of the Executive Board, but that expulsion shall not be ordered except upon the approval of two-thirds of the full Executive Board; and provided further that any member so expelled by the Executive Board shall have the right to appeal to the full body of membership at the next succeeding Annual Meeting of the Association, in which case a majority vote of regular members present and voting shall be recognized as the final decision of the Association.”


Following the fracas in the pressroom, Ateba who is black, took to Twitter to provide his side of the story.

“The true story is that of discrimination, that of looking down on some people, ignoring them, behaving as if they don’t have anything to say even when Africa is being discussed in the room, the true story is about perpetuating inequality, elevating some people over others, preaching equity loudly to the country but practicing something different in the briefing room,” he wrote.

“It is a horrible story of open discrimination and I just wanted her to be different on her last day, to take questions from across the room, to give a voice to the people she did not call on for 15 months, to be good on her final day. I just wanted to provide a suggestion but I was shut out once again. Sadly!” Ateba added.

The reporter also posted a series of tweets airing his grievances.

“It was disgusting to hear @marykbruce of @abcnews yell at me as I tried to get one question in as she sits there in the front row asking a billion questions every day, as I try to get one in weeks, even as many reporters in middle and back rows do not get any in months,” he wrote.

Ateba added, “It often baffles me that those who get opportunities every single day do not have the basic decency or the heart to realize that there are people there who have not been called on in 15 months. It’s disgusting, awful and a tragedy to have people like that report about equity.”

“As I sit in that briefing room, as the little guy, I understand why the world is in such a chaotic state, with 1 percent of people controlling all the resources while the majority of people wallow in hopelessness, drug addiction, homelessness and hunger,” Ateba wrote in another tweet.

Ateba said that he was left with a “with a heavy heart” by the email in a statement to Mediaite

“I received the email from WHCA’s President Steven Portnoy with a heavy heart. I am the victim here and I am being treated so unfairly by WHCA. It is sad and it is heartbreaking,” he said. “America is the greatest country in the world and no country comes even close. Here in the United States, press freedom is respected, or so I thought, or so I was made to believe.”

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