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Jen Psaki’s Last Day At White House Ends With Being Heckled By Angry Reporter

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s last day on the job Friday ended with a bit of drama as she was called out by an angry reporter.

As Psaki stood at the podium she began to be heckled by Today News Africa White House correspondent Simon Ateba shouted about having fair access in the briefing room.

“Why don’t you take questions from across the room?” he said as Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller was trying to ask a question about the worsening baby formula shortage around the country.

“Why don’t you take questions from across the room? Because that’s not what you’ve done for the past 15 months,” Ateba shouted again.

Initially, Psaki and most other reporters in the briefing room ignored the Africa correspondent but he wouldn’t stop shouting during the event.

“Jen, can I ask you a question from the back?” he shouted. “Jen, can I ask you a question from the back?”

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At that, NPR reporter Tamara Keith looked at him and pressed him to stop interrupting, but he continued to try to get Psaki’s attention and eventually did.

“Simon, if you can respect your colleagues and other media and reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated,” said Psaki, who has been criticized in the past for mostly taking questions only from reporters closest to her.

The New York Post adds:

Since covering the Biden administration, Ateba has frequently sparred with Psaki — going as far to accuse her of lying about coronavirus-related travel restrictions in December.
 
“You are saying something that is false,” Ateba shouted at Psaki, speaking once again over his colleagues. 

“I just answered — Simon, I answered a question on this,” Psaki said as he continued to attempt to get his question in.“Let’s let [Voice of America reporter] Patsy [Widakuswara] ask a question,” added Psaki, who later scolded Ateba when he persisted.

“It’s not effective to scream over your colleagues in here,” the press secretary said. “Let’s — let’s — let Patsy ask the question.”

Psaki has been replaced by her deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, and has been regularly feted as being the first black, openly gay press secretary in the country’s history.

Earlier this week, Psaki came clean about one of her media nemeses, Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy, who frequently had some tense back-and-forth sessions with her.

In remarks during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Psaki reflected on her and Doocy’s “healthy debates and discussions.”

When asked if she would miss him, Psaki admitted: “I will.”

“I will tell you, and people know this who are in the White House every day, I think we have a very good, professional relationship,” she added.

“I understand that he’s coming there to ask questions every day that are important to report at the outlet he works for,” she continued. “And I respect that and we have healthy debates and discussions.

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“Doesn’t mean I agree with his line of questioning on most days,” Psaki — who is leaving for a position at rival network MSNBC — continued. “But I think that’s, I’ve called on him every day he’s been there or a Fox person, Jacqui Heinrich, who’s been there a lot as well. And I think sending the message to the country that we’re not — we’re not focused here on a fight with Fox.

“We’re focused here on the work of the American people,” she noted further.

Earlier, when she announced her replacement, Karine Jean-Pierre, Doocy said: “Thank you, Jen. Sorry to see you go.”

“Are you?” Psaki coyly responded, to laughter in the room.

“Yes, and you’ve always been a good sport. So, on behalf of everybody, thank you for everything,” Doocy replied.

“Thank you. As have you,” she said.

Psaki has also been criticized by previous press secretaries. Just last week, one of them, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is running for governor of Arkansas with the blessing of her former boss, then-President Donald Trump, offered a critical take over the Biden official’s “mind-boggling hypocrisy” in regards to reports that leftists plan to harass conservative Supreme Court justices at their homes.

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