The White House is warning a correspondent known for his outbursts in the briefing room that he may have his press pass revoked.
Simon Ateba of Today News has made headlines for his repeated clashes with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, as well as reprimands from his fellow reporters for talking out of turn.
In a letter from the White House on Tuesday, the Biden administration took things further, threatening to revoke Ateba’s access.
“The White House recognizes that members of the press often raise their voices or shout questions at press briefings or events,” the letter, shared by Ateba on his Twitter on Tuesday, reads. “Ordinarily such shouting stops when a reporter is called on for a question, and the briefing or event is able to continue. Continued interruptions are different; they prevent journalists from asking questions or administration officials and guests from responding.
“If you continue to impede briefings or events by shouting over your colleagues who have been called on for a question, even after you have been asked to stop by a White House employee, then your hard pass may be suspended or revoked, following notice and an opportunity to respond,” the letter adds.
In response to warnings from White House officials, Ateba, who claims he hasn’t been called on for months, has said in recent days on Twitter he’s the victim of “coordinated vicious attacks against me to assassinate my character.”
“I continue to face oppression, discrimination and attacks from many sides in my attempt to do my job and report the truth,” he added in another recent post.
For a reporter from a small outlet, Ateba has attracted outside attention, in part because of his willingness to interrupt the press secretaries and others with his comments.
In one memorable moment, he interrupted a high-profile visit from the cast of the TV show Ted Lasso, prompting furious reaction from his fellow journalists.
“Don’t make assumptions about what the rest of us do,” Brian Karem yelled at Ateba. “Mind your manners when you’re in here and if you have a problem bring it up afterwards. But you are infringing on everybody in here who is only trying to do their job.”
One place where Ateba has gotten a warmer reception is on conservative news channels like Fox News, who have held up the reporter as a victim of liberal “cancel culture.”
Such clashes in the briefing room aren’t unknown.
Testy exchanges between Fox News’s Peter Doocy and former press secretary Jen Psaki frequently went viral, and CNN had to sue the Trump administration to reinstate Jim Acosta’s press pass, following a number of tense back-and-forths with officials.
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