The Biden White House will not tolerate disruptions during Propaganda Hour, otherwise known as the daily press briefing.
Monday on the social media platform X, journalist Simon Ateba of Today News Africa posted the full text of a letter he reportedly received from the office of White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre — a letter threatening to restrict his access to all White House “press-related events.”
We “warned you of the consequences that could result” from your behavior, the letter read in part.
That behavior, of course — and White House officials’ general attitude toward speech and people they dislike — constitutes the story here.
First, there is the immediate context for the letter from Jean-Pierre’s office.
“As I mentioned earlier, she deliberately closed the press briefing on Thursday to claim that I disrupted it, which is entirely false,” Ateba wrote on X.
On Thursday, with Angola President João Lourenço visiting the White House that afternoon, Ateba tried to ask a question of National Security Counsel spokesman John Kirby. Jean-Pierre shut down Ateba’s question and, after some brief back-and-forth with the journalist, abruptly ended the press briefing.
Later on Thursday, Ateba took to social media to protest.
“I am highly disappointed and even heartbroken that in the citadel of democracy, and in the most powerful house in the world, I’m being discriminated against for a year for trying to do my job while journalist colleagues remain silent. May God help me,” the journalist posted Thursday.
It’s a shame that @WhiteHouse @PressSec Karine Jean-Pierre decided to abruptly end the press briefing rather than take a question from me after a year. Even when President Biden is hosting an African leader like the President of Angola today, the White House does not take a… pic.twitter.com/O8YfrzGa0L
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) November 30, 2023
That brings us to the history between Ateba and Jean-Pierre.
“Karine Jean-Pierre’s office sent me another warning letter and filed it in court, which was their objective in the first place,” Ateba posted Monday.
Why would the Cameroonian journalist, who founded Today News Africa, regard the press secretary’s move as calculated?
Well, for one thing, Ateba sued Jean-Pierre and the Secret Service in August for what his lawsuit described as “an unconstitutional attempt to arbitrarily restrict who qualifies as ‘the press,’” according to the New York Post.
In May, for the first time ever, the White House established rules for stripping journalists of press badges, called “hard passes.”
“The new rules serve as a warning and include vague standards to justify enforcement,” the Post reported at the time.
Having identified Ateba as a “disruptive” journalist who also happens to ask questions the White House dislikes, Jean-Pierre’s office set in motion a sequence of events clearly calculated to chill freedom of the press.
On X, Ateba referred to a first warning letter dated July 11. The second letter, filed in court, came on Monday.
“Her expectation is that the DC judge where I sued her will rule in her favor, as they discriminate against me, disregard the First Amendment, and spread false allegations against me,” Ateba posted in part.
Readers may view Ateba’s full post below, including the text of Jean-Pierre’s letter.
As I mentioned earlier, she deliberately closed the press briefing on Thursday to claim that I disrupted it, which is… pic.twitter.com/IZUTXxk8QJ
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) December 4, 2023
In short, Jean-Pierre’s office may try all it wants to cloak its obvious intentions. High-sounding phrases such as “professionalism” and “disruptive behavior” ring hollow from officials in this authoritarian administration.
President Joe Biden and his cronies have conspired to censor Americans’ speech. They have weaponized the federal government against their political opponents. And they have falsely imprisoned American citizens. They have done all these things in the name of “democracy.”
So it should not surprise us that they would go great lengths to rid themselves of inconvenient journalists.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.