Saturday, May 14, 2022

Reporter Heckles Psaki During Final WH Briefing

NY Post graphic 5/14/22

White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s final briefing with reporters went off the rails Friday after one reporter repeatedly shouted a question about fair access in the room.

As Psaki began to take questions — after fighting back tears as she thanked members of the administration and the press corps — Simon Ateba, the chief White House correspondent for Today News Africa, was heard yelling from the back of the press briefing room.

“Why don’t you take questions from across the room?” Ateba asked as Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller attempted to get things started with a query about the ongoing baby formula shortage. 

“Why don’t you take questions from across the room? Because that’s not what you’ve done for the past 15 months,” Ateba shouted again. 

Psaki was not initially fazed by Ateba’s lack of decorum. However, the reporter shouted over his colleagues again minutes later.

“Jen, can I ask you a question from the back?” he was heard saying. “Jen, can I ask you a question from the back?” 

As Ateba continued to speak over reporters in the front row who attempted to question Psaki, NPR’s Tamara Keith turned around and urged him to desist.

“Simon, please, stop,” she said. 

Ateba did not oblige and continued to shout over other reporters in the room, until Psaki finally turned to him to say, “Simon, if you can respect your colleagues and other media and reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated.”

Psaki has been criticized in the past for strictly sticking to answering questions from reporters in the first few rows of the briefing room, often missing out on questions from outlets such as The Post, the Washington Examiner, Al Jazeera and other foreign media.

MSNBC on Friday night refused to deny that White House press secretary Jen Psaki - who delivered her final briefing on Friday - was about to join their network and host a streaming show. 

In April news broke that she was in talks with various news broadcasters about a post-White House role, and it rapidly emerged that she was in exclusive talks with MSNBC. Questions were asked how she could continue to do her job impartially while in contractual negotiations with one of the media outlets she dealt with daily. 'I took steps and have taken steps, as I've had any discussions with any future employer, that go over and above any requirements by government, recusing myself of any discussions as well, and I'm proud of that,' Psaki said last Sunday.

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