Simon Ateba, a White House reporter for Today News Africa and regular thorn in the side of White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, parlayed his disruptive appearance Monday in the briefing room into a friendly interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight in which he made a bizarre comment about having children with Jean-Pierre.
Ateba, who made repeated outbursts toward Jean-Pierre for not calling on him in what he claimed was “seven months,” argued that the First Amendment justified his anger.
“The First Amendment says that I have the right to ask questions—to do my job,” he told Carlson, even though it certainly does not mean the White House press secretary must answer all reporters’ inquiries, or call on everyone in the briefing room, no matter how persistent they are.
Ateba then made things a bit personal and awkward.
“The press secretary doesn’t need to like me, date me, marry me, have two black children with me. She doesn’t need all that,” Ateba said, much to Carlson’s amusement. “She doesn’t even need to like my accent—doesn’t even need to like what I look like [or] where I come from. They look down on me. They don’t respect the First Amendment.”
Ateba compared his situation to that of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, who at times made headlines for calling out members of the Trump administration—the same administration that labeled the press “the enemy of the people.” (The Biden administration has made no such smear.)
“When it happens to Jim Acosta of CNN—because they respect him, he’s white [and] he works for CNN. I’m Black, I’m African, [and] I don’t have money,” he said. “They don’t treat me the same way.”
Carlson was sympathetic, and didn’t pass up the chance to throw a barb at media outlets other than his own. What drew his ire were other reporters in the briefing room calling for Ateba to be quiet and air his grievances in private.
“The fact that [Reuters White House Correspondent] Jeff Mason and the rest—who should be ashamed of himself—took the White House side against you is really one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen,” Carlson said. “I was shocked by this, as cynical as I am.”