Jen Psaki chides frustrated reporter on her final day as White House press secretary

Jen Psaki chides frustrated reporter on her final day as White House press secretary

Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki chided a reporter for an African news site after he repeatedly interrupted her and other journalists at her final press briefing on Friday.

Simon Ateba, who runs the website Today News Africa, repeatedly shouted ‘will you take a question from the back of the room?’ interrupting his press colleagues as well as Psaki.

Ateba first interrupted Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller, and then began shouting over ABC News reporter Mary Bruce as she tried to ask a question.

Bruce, her frustration evident, responded ‘Simon, please stop,’ but Ateba was undeterred and repeated his demands.

‘If you can spread the questions from across the room and all of us at the back of the room,’ shouted Ateba.

Psaki at this point intervened and said: ‘Simon, if you could respect your colleagues and other media reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated.’

Go ahead, Mary,’ she added, inviting the ABC reporter to proceed with a question about the nation baby formula shortage.

Though some among the White House press corps were irked by the disruption, One America News Network correspondent Chanel Rion shared a video of the incident and said that others shared Ateba’s frustration.

Rion, whose channel does not have an assigned seat in the briefing room, said in a tweet that Psaki had never called on her outlet and only ‘takes questions from a select few.’

Though Ateba is not the most prominent among the White House press corps, he has been called on by Psaki and other officials in the past.

In February, for instance, he asked Psaki about reports that she planned to take a job at MSNBC after leaving her White House post.

And at a briefing in March, Ateba took the lead in asking about the Biden administration’s response to Will Smith’s infamous slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars.

White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield responded that President Joe Biden had not watched the Oscars ceremony, and did not have an official comment on the matter.

On Friday evening, a spokesman for MSNBC refused to confirm what is believed to be the worst-kept secret in TV news – that Psaki left her prestigious job to launch a career with the liberal network.

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 for a multi-million dollar contract to have her own show.

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.

Psaki didn’t deny rumors of the planned career change when grilled during a press conference. She didn’t go into any specifics either – but insisted she’d always acted ethically, and flagged any potential conflict of interest to her bosses.

In early April, Noah Oppenheim, the NBC News president, held an impromptu phone call with staff at the Washington bureau – some of whom had complained to their superiors, CNN reported, that the tentative hiring tarnishes the NBC News brand.

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