Psaki Repeatedly Shuts Down Today News Africa Reporter for Shouting Questions About Omicron at Briefing


White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki repeatedly shut down Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba as he tried to shout questions about Omicron cases in South Africa.

During Thursday’s briefing, Ateba began shouting a question related to travel restrictions and case rates in South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first reported, after Psaki had called on another reporter.

“Let her finish. Let her finish,” Psaki said over Ateba’s shouts, then with a gesture, added, “Sir. Sir, she was asking a question.”

Moments later, Ateba began shouting again, and Psaki told him “Simon, I answered a question on this,” and when Ateba persisted, Psaki told him, “It’s not effective to scream over your colleagues in here. Let’s let Patsy ask the question.”

Ateba also tried to ask again as Psaki left, which she ignored.

Psaki is known to shut down and scold reporters who shout over others, shouts which usually emanate from the back of the room. She does occasionally answer questions shouted at the end of the briefing.

Ateba may have been emboldened by the fact that he managed to pull off an unscheduled question the day before. During Wednesday’s briefing, Psaki called on a different reporter, but Ateba horned in and got Dr. Anthony Fauci to respond to him.

MR. ATEBA: Dr. Fauci, with all due respect, there’s zero case of COVID — of Omicron case in Zimbabwe, in Namibia, in Lesotho, in Mozambique. What justified imposing a travel ban on countries that have zero case of the Omicron variant?

DR. FAUCI: You know, that’s a very good question and important question, and we did struggle with that. But we wanted to see if we could bide time temporarily. So, I do hope that this gets sorted out and lifted before it has any significant impact on your country.

Fauci also had to move on as Ateba continued to shout follow-ups.

UPDATE: Mr. Ateba reached out to Mediaite to clarify that it was not his intention to be disruptive, but to challenge Psaki’s statements about the number of cases in South Africa and the reasons for low vaccination numbers.

Watch above via C-Span.

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