Last week, the White House issued a formal warning to “Today News Africa” reporter Simon Ateba informing him that he could lose his hard pass if he continues disrupting press briefings, marking the first time Biden’s White House press office has issued such a warning to a White House reporter, the Washington Post reported.
The warning follows multiple incidents of Ateba interrupting press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to demand being called on during press briefings.
For months, Jean-Pierre has refused to call on Ateba and has frequently admonished him for interrupting the daily press briefings.
Ateba, meanwhile, has cast himself in the role of the victim, accusing the White House of discrimination and racism.
In its letter, the White House press office informed Ateba that if he continues disrupting press briefings, he could lose his hard pass, the credentials that allow reporters to enter the White House grounds.
The warning cited six incidents during four press briefings since December in which Ateba talked over other reporters or interrupted.
In its letter to Ateba, the press office acknowledged that reporters will often “raise their voices or shout questions,” but said that continued interruptions like Ateba’s stop reporters from asking questions while preventing administration officials or White House guests from responding.
Ateba was warned that if he continues to “impede briefings or events” by shouting over or interrupting reporters, “even after you have been asked to stop by a White House employee,” his hard pass could be “suspended or revoked.”
However, the fate of Ateba’s hard pass may be a foregone conclusion.
According to the Washington Post, all current White House reporters will have to reapply for a hard pass at the end of July because of the revised rules on press conduct that the White House announced in May.
It is unlikely that Simon Ateba will qualify for a renewed hard pass under the new White House press rules.