- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s final White House press briefing descended into chaos Tuesday as reporters, frustrated with being ignored, shouted questions at the Biden administration’s chief medical adviser.

Shortly into the briefing, it became a free-for-all as newsmen and women yelled questions, shouting down their colleagues, while Simon Ateba, correspondent for Today News Africa, heckled White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for not calling on more reporters.

About 15 minutes into the briefing, a shouting reporter named Steven prompted a sharp rebuke from Ms. Jean-Pierre.

“I did not call you on you, Steven,” she said pointedly.

The scolding did little to assuage others. One female reporter shouted a question at Dr. Fauci about the origins of the COVID virus.

Ms. Jean-Pierre quickly returned to the podium to admonish the unruly reporters.

“We have a process here. I’m not calling on people who yell. And you are being disrespectful to your colleagues and you are being disrespectful to our guests. I will not call on you if you yell and you are also taking time off the clock because Dr. Fauci has to leave in a couple of minutes,” she said.

The reprimand did little to quell the press revolt as reporters continued to shout questions.

“I’m done. I’m not getting into a back-and-forth with you. It’s not your turn,” Ms. Jean-Pierre snapped.

In response, Mr. Ateba stood up for a colleague, insisting she was asking a “valid a valid question … and you should allow her to ask it. She’s asking about the origins of COVID.”

“I hear your question, but we are not doing it the way you want, Simon. I’m done with you right now,” she said.

Ms. Jean-Pierre has been criticized in the past for answering questions from reporters in only the first few rows of the briefing room, often ignoring the back rows.

White House staffers have defended press access to the president, saying they call on a diverse number of outlets. Still, the White House has also come under fire for regularly prescreening journalists who can ask President Biden questions at regular events.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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