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Karine Jean-Pierre slammed for 'making a mockery of the First Amendment,' discriminating against reporters during White House briefing

Image Source: Twitter video screenshot

A White House press briefing this week erupted into a shouting match between reporters after press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was slammed for "making a mockery of the First Amendment."

The press secretary was accused of discriminating against certain reporters during a briefing Monday with actors Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham, cast members of the show "Ted Lasso."

The actors, who attended the briefing to discuss mental health, awkwardly stood behind Jean-Pierre as Simon Ateba, Today News Africa chief White House correspondent, claimed that the press secretary had not allowed him to ask a question in seven months. He alleged that Jean-Pierre discriminated against him and other reporters.

"This is not China. This is not Russia. What you are doing, you're making a mockery of the First Amendment," Ateba said.

At one point, Jean-Pierre turned around to address the "Ted Lasso" cast members and stated, "Fun times, welcome, guys." She then asked Ateba if he was "going to behave."

After the "Ted Lasso" actors left the room, Ateba continued to press Jean-Pierre and claimed reporters toward the front of the room were offered more opportunities to ask questions than those seated in the back.

Other press corps members off camera urged Ateba to quiet down. One member said he was "tired of dealing" with his attitude, and another stated, "It's not just about you, Simon."

Another reporter spoke up over the chaos and said, "Don't make assumptions about what the rest of us do, mind your manners when you're in here, and if you have a problem, you bring it up afterward, but you are impinging on everybody in here who's only trying to do their job."

After the clash between reporters quieted down, Jean-Pierre addressed the incident stating, "As you know, this is the White House press briefing room. A historic room. A room that should have decorum. A room where folks should respect their colleagues and respect the guests that are here. And I understand that there's going to be give and take. That's the way the press briefing has gone for decades before me."

Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller later used a "point of personal privilege" to apologize on behalf of Ateba.

"I just wanted to express our apologies to the press corps, to the folks watching at home for the display you saw earlier. Our responsibility to them, we're here to ask questions on their behalf, to hold their government accountable, but they can't all be here. This isn't about us," Miller said.

Ateba fired back at Miller on Twitter, writing, "This @WhiteHouse Correspondent @ZekeJMiller for @AP is a disgrace to the First Amendment and journalism. He believes he's better than me. But he's not. He apologized to @PressSec Karine Jean-Pierre today for discriminating against me for seven months. In the past 7 months, as I sat behind him, I watched him him ask those questions at every press briefing, he became entitled, believing that he's better than those who get no questions. This is insane!"

According to Ateba, the press secretary has refused to meet with him until 2024, and he believes she is attempting to avoid his challenging questions.

Ateba and Jean-Pierre squabbled in November when he defended Daily Caller White House correspondent Diana Glebova for attempting to ask Dr. Anthony Fauci a "good question" about the origins of COVID.

Jean-Pierre scolded Glebova for shouting her question, stating, "I'm not calling out on people who yell."

Ateba intervened and told Jean-Pierre she needed to "call [on] people across the room."

"Simon, I'm done with you right now," Jean-Pierre replied.

In May 2022, Ateba similarly accused former press secretary Jen Psaki of failing to call on reporters in the back of the room.

"Why don't you take questions from across the room? Because that's not what you've done for the past 15 months," Ateba told Psaki.

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