Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center loves Simon Ateba -- who works for a tiny website he founded called Today News Africa -- because he's their kind of jerk. Curtis Houck cheered how Ateba caused "chaos" during Jen Psaki's final briefing as White House press secretary with fits of "shouting" and "heckling," and he's still at it. A March 20 post by Houck insisted Ateba's antics are no worse than the tough questioning asked by Trump-era reporters:
Monday’s White House press briefing was unlike any other so far as Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba seized the spotlight and, seconds after ever-inept Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stepped to the podium, began berating Jean-Pierre for allegedly not having called on him in seven months.
When he wouldn’t quiet down and let Jean-Pierre introduce the cast of Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso(who were there to promote mental health), other reporters got involved and it descended into a rather tense scene that would soon be repeated moments later.
One could argue the move harkened back to the days of liberal activists masquerading as journalists with Jim Acosta, Brian Karem, and April Ryan pitching daily hissy fits that left them financially enriched and subjects of puffball profiles. Of course, their juvenile outbursts were never met with apologies from the Associated Press or officers in the White House Correspondents Association.
Houck seems a little jealous of them for doing better than him. But as he documented Ateba's ranting, he offered no evidence whatsoever that it equated to anything Acosta (a longtime enemy of the MRC because he refused to be the pro-Trump shill it demanded he be) and others did:
Once Ateba started shouting, Jean-Pierre clapped back: “No, no, no, no, no. No. Nope. That’s not — we’re not doing this. We’re not doing this. We’re not doing this. We’re not doing this.”
Ateba replied that she had been “dismissive against me” and “against some people in this Briefing Room," adding,
One reporter interjected to ask Ateba to “stop” while Karem had the irony to interject and asked him to “let her start.”
After Ateba shouted that Jean-Pierre was “making a mockery of the First Amendment,” more reporters started indiscernible shouting, but Karem could be heard demanding he “respect her” while NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell (vice president of the WHCA) repeatedly called for, “decorum, please.”
Ateba kept going, saying “[i]t’s been seven months you have not called on me. I’m saying that’s not right. That’s not right.”
Jean-Pierre turned to make a joke to the Ted Lasso cast that they had quite the “untimed welcome,” Ateba kept shouting: “I see you’re trying to censor me and some people, but that’s not right.”=
She asked if the room was “ready to behave,” but Ateba kept screaming, so NPR’s Tamara Keith (president of the WHCA) shouted, “Simon” while O’Donnell again asked for “decorum” and said she was “sorry to our guests.”
Ateba briefly relented to have Jean-Pierre offer a dressing down, reminding them that the “historic” Brady Briefing Room “should have decorum...where folks should respect their colleagues and respect...guests” even though there will “be give and take.”
“[W]hat I will not appreciate is disrespecting your colleagues and disrespecting guests who are here to talk...about an incredibly important issue, which is mental health. And what is just occurred...is unacceptable,” she added, leaving to more claims of “discrimination” from Ateba.
The next day, Nicholas Fondacaro rushed to Ateba's defense when the co-hosts of "The View" criticized his unprofessional behavior:
Following an explosive exchange between Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday, the cast of ABC’s The View had their knives out Tuesday for the reporter as they took turns taking swipes in defense of a friend of the show. But in a series of tweets in near real-time, Ateba shot back and called them out for allegedly spreading big lies about stuff he didn’t write.
Suggesting Ateba was a “troll,” Whoopi Goldberg claimed “he does this all the time. This may be one of the reasons she doesn't call on him, because he can be combative.” And she scoffed at the idea that he might be right “about being ignored at the briefings.”
“You have to look at your behavior, sir. You have to look at your behavior because nobody wants to be jumped. Nobody wants to be jumped up there. The gig is tough enough,” she would later whine on Jean-Pierre’s behalf.
Hostin did suggest that Ateba was more legitimate than Peter Doocy since Fox News was “infotainment” in her eyes. And Behar decried him for going on Tucker Carlson’s show later that night. “He ran to Tucker Carlson right after this, so that tells you where he's at,” she chided.
The fact that Ateba ran to Tucker Carlson for his victory lap is another reason the MRC is defending him.
Tim Graham didn't quite defend Ateba in his March 22 column, but he did play the "he's just like Jim Acosta card":
The briefing room is usually a tank of hungry sharks for a Republican press secretary, and a classroom full of teacher’s pets for a Democrat press secretary. The news cycle has to be pretty negative for reporters to sound hostile to Biden’s press aides.
On March 20, black reporter Simon Ateba from an obscure website called “Today News Africa” began screaming at the very top of the briefing that current press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was not calling on him so he could ask his questions. Other reporters joined the fight, insisting Ateba press his complaints off camera.
There should be decorum at press briefings. The White House is not a place for egotistical shouting by reporters, no matter the outlet. But some people have thought they could secure fame and fortune by doing it. Ateba scored friendly interviews with Fox and Newsmax.
Before him, CNN’s Jim Acosta routinely yelled at President Trump, and was celebrated as heroic and was gushed over by Stephen Colbert. Acosta constantly suggested Trump would get journalists brutalized or killed, and wrote a self-congratulatory memoir titled The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America.
In 2017, April Ryan squabbled with Trump press secretary Sean Spicer, and then she joined CNN as a political analyst. That year, she also was named “Journalist of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists.” This will never happen to Simon Ateba. She also wrote a self-promoting memoir titled Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.
Brian Karem, who wrote about Trump for Playboy, also secured a political-analyst gig at CNN after yelling at Sarah Huckabee Sanders. So it was remarkable hypocrisy for Karem to scold Ateba about how this “isn’t just about you” and to “mind your manners.”
LIie Houck, Graham offered no evidence that Ateba's ranting are exactly the same as what Acosta, et al, did. Instead, he offered himself as a model of decorum in his brief attempt to pass himself off as a real repiorter:
I was a White House reporter in the first two years of President George W. Bush for World magazine, a Christian news weekly. I didn’t always get called on, but I never raised my voice, since that wouldn’t have reflected well on my employer. I resisted the temptation to ask press secretary Ari Fleischer naughty questions like “do you think Helen Thomas has become a crackpot?”
Of course, because he was "covering" a Republican administration -- that is, fluffing Bush and crew for a similarly biased audience -- Graham would never hae been so gauche as to ask an even remotely unfriendly question of Fleischer, which he proved by offering that the only critical question he would have asked involved attacking another reporter.
In other words, he was doing exactly what he accuses reporters with the "liberal media" of doing right now.That's a big reason to never take him and the MRC seriously in their "media research."