African Journalist Announces Legal Action Against White House Correspondents' Association: 'Pray for Me'
An African journalist who raises the hackles of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre with his questions is fighting back after being banned from joining the White House Correspondents Association.
Journalist Simon Ateba, who covers the White House for Today News Africa, announced in a tweet he will sue the group, “since they made false claims against me and my company and did not abide by their own membership guidelines.”
“I will fight like hell because as they sit in the briefing room collecting salaries, they don’t know there are people like me who build companies from scratch. Pray for me,” he wrote.
I have decided to take legal action against the White House Correspondents Association @whca since they made false claims against me and my company and did not abide by their own membership guidelines. From now on, I will let my lawyer talk about the case but I will fight like… https://t.co/cWrbFjMr7Z pic.twitter.com/sEnzaKDHh3
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) March 4, 2023
In a separate tweet, he told more of the story.
“Today is a dark day for freedom of the press in the United States of America. The forces of evil who felt belittled have removed me from the White House Correspondents Association,” he wrote.
“The removal had the approval of one journalist called @tamarakeithNPR who is WHCA President and works for NPR funded by donors and taxpayers. They claimed that I do not have money and cannot be a member of WHCA. They also lied in their letter and did not follow their own membership guidelines. May God forgive them,” he wrote.
He included what he said was a communication from WHCA Executive Director Steven Thomma saying that after Ateba applied, he was asked for more information that he did not provide. Ateba’s application was then rejected.
Today is a dark day for freedom of the press in the United States of America. The forces of evil who felt belittled have removed me from the White House Correspondents Association. The removal had the approval of one journalist called @tamarakeithNPR who https://t.co/ku6YlLJ9km… https://t.co/6sCa9iKgeT pic.twitter.com/2grSfnbwh2
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) March 4, 2023
“Additionally, the committee noted repeated instances where your behavior violated the expectations for membership outlined in our bylaws, which have been detailed to you previously,” the email quoted Thomma as saying after writing that Ateba’s dues would be refunded.
In a follow-up tweet, Ateba noted he is not going away.
“I would like to clarify to my followers that I will still be covering the @WhiteHouse briefings, I am just not allowed to be part of the elite club—the @WHCA —which enables more access. The WHCA does not grant access to the People’s House. The White House belongs to the American people, rich and poor, famous or not. They can send you there and sack you after four years if they want,” he wrote.
“I have also decided to take legal action against President Biden’s Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for discrimination against me in the White House,” he wrote.
Attacked by pirates on the Gulf of Guinea with an AK47 to my head, kidnapped in Nigeria, dumped in the woods & left for dead, arrested in Cameroon during investigation & kept in dark cell only to be sidelined at the White House. This is how Tucker Carlson introduced me to America pic.twitter.com/bOLujRzKfi
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) January 14, 2023
On his Twitter account, Ateba posted a months-old endorsement of his battle with the Biden White House from Tucker Carlson of Fox News, who called Ateba “the most famous and we would say finest reporter in all Africa. And that means Karine Jean-Pierre does not want to talk to him at all. She hasn’t called on him in more than four months. Now the White House says that Karine Jean-Pierre will not meet with Simon Ateba until next year, which means, of course never.”
In December, Jean-Pierre boiled over after Ateba tried to get in a question about an upcoming summit meeting between President Joe Biden and African leaders. On that occasion, angry with Ateba, she slammed shut her briefing book and left the room.
They had also clashed in November, when Ateba tried to ask a question about the origins of COVID-19, only to be stymied by Jean-Pierre, according to a White House transcript of the session.
“You call on the same people every single time,” Ateba said then.
“You’re being — you’re being disrespectful to your colleagues, and you’re being disrespectful to our guests. I will not call on you if you yell,” she said.
“Simon, I’m done. I’m done with you right now,” she said, later telling him, “You’re taking time away from your colleagues.”
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