As Dr. Anthony Fauci prepares to sail off into retirement from his job as the highest-paid person in the United States government, he took time out for one last round of questions and answers in the White House briefing room yesterday. Still acting as the Mistress of Ceremonies, Karine Jean-Pierre (pronounced with a heavy French accent) called on various reporters for their questions. When Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba received a rather dubious answer to his question, he attempted to press for a follow-up to another reporter’s inquiry. KJP was having none of it and read Ateba the riot act. The unhinged nature of her response was really something to behold. (Mediaite)
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre admonished Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba for speaking out of turn in his attempt to ask a question of Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci took part in Tuesday’s press briefing, which is likely to be his last before retiring as White House chief medical advisor. As Fauci urged the public to remain vigilant to the threat of Covid, Ateba cut off CNN’s Jeremy Diamond by demanding a follow-up on The Daily Caller’s Diana Glebova’s question about the origin of the coronavirus.
Ateba’s outbursts with Biden administration spokespeople have been a frequent source of explosive confrontations in the past. Jean-Pierre was clearly not in the mood for Ateba’s interruptions, as she took back the lecturn to tell him “we have a process here. I’m not calling out on people who yell, and you’re being disrespectul to our colleagues, and you’re being disrespectful to our guest.”
Here’s the video. You’ll want to make sure you have the sound on for this one.
So what was the bee that got under KJP’s bonnet? Granted, Ateba was going on with his questioning after she had called on someone else and that’s not the typical protocol during these briefings. But the subject matter also seemed to be a bit on the sensitive side for this White House. Both Ateba and Diana Glebova were trying to get Fauci to respond to questions about his initial claims that the virus arose naturally and not in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. (A claim that is being rejected by most analysts at this point.) They were pointing out that Fauci was “the best person to answer the question.” That’s obviously true, but was KJP under some marching orders to not air that uncomfortable topic?
Even if that’s not the case, yelling “I’m done with you” wasn’t exactly the most professional way to address a member of the press corps. But as we’ve seen repeatedly, KJP has struggled with the position she was given in the White House. (To put it mildly.) It’s also worth noting that Simon Ateba is Black. I’m positive someone previously told us that shouting down and attempting to silence a Black person is racist. Or am I misremembering that?
This wasn’t the first time KJP has disrespected the Today News Africa correspondent. She shut him down a few months ago when he asked about major news outlets suggested Biden should step aside.
It’s funny how the majority of outbursts in the briefing room from KJP almost always seem to involve Ateba. Is it something about him personally, or is it the fact that he has a tendency to focus on questions that the Biden administration would prefer not to discuss? If the latter, this is a sad state of affairs because that’s traditionally been precisely the sort of thing that professional journalists were supposed to do. The briefing room wasn’t intended to simply be a cheering section for the administration.