White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday shouted down several reporters during Dr. Anthony Fauci’s last press briefing as the chief medical adviser, calling them “disrespectful” before eventually saying “I’m done with you right now.”
After Fauci answered a question about what COVID-19 precautions to take for the holiday season, Daily Caller reporter Diana Glebova attempted to get the infectious disease expert to respond to her question about the origins of the novel coronavirus. (The unproven theory that the virus was engineered and leaked from a Wuhan lab has long been a hot-button issue for right-wing media.)
With the New York Post’s Steven Nelson piggybacking on Glebova’s question, Jean-Pierre quickly jumped in to scold the two journalists. “Hold on, wait! I did not call on you, Steven,” the press secretary exclaimed.
A few minutes later, Glebova tried once more to ask her question, only for Jean-Pierre to cut her off and dress her down before the press corps.
“We have a process here. I’m not calling out on people who yell,” the Biden spokesperson said. “You’re being disrespectful to your colleagues, and you are being disrespectful to our guests. I will not call on you if you yell, and also, you’re taking time off the clock because Dr. Fauci has to leave in a couple of minutes. I’m done. I’m not getting into a back-and-forth with you.”
While Jean-Pierre may have wanted to avoid an argument with the Daily Caller correspondent, she quickly ended up tangling with a familiar foe.
Despite Jean-Pierre calling on Jeremy Diamond, Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba cut off the CNN reporter and began yelling from the back of the room, demanding the White House flack allow Glebova to ask Fauci her questions.
“She has a valid question! She’s asking about the origins of COVID. Dr. Fauci’s the best person to answer that question,” Ateba yelled.
“I hear your question, but we’re not doing this the way you want it!” Jean-Pierre shot back, prompting Ateba to continue arguing with her.
“Simon, I’m done! Simon, I’m done,” she proclaimed. “Simon, I’m done with you right now!… You’re taking time away from your colleagues.”
In recent years, Ateba has cultivated a reputation as something of a gadfly within the White House press room, gaining notice for his outbursts and tense exchanges in press briefings and his at-times off-the-wall questions. Just last month, Ateba accused the White House communications staff of “blacklisting” him after his fellow White House reporters complained to Jean-Pierre about the questions he asked.