Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa, Simon Ateba, has consistently pushed back against the Biden Administration in the Press Room.
On Jen Psaki’s final day as White House Press Secretary, Ateba repeatedly attempted to get Psaki to call on him and other reporters in the back of the room.
He accused White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre of “making a mockery of the First Amendment” after she shouted him down in the press room.
In May of 2022, Ateba learned the price one pays for daring to try to get actual answers from the Biden administration and he was threatened with expulsion from the White House Correspondents Association. Ateba announced he will sue the group for making false claims against him and not adhering to their own guidelines.
On Friday, Ateba shared that the White House is changing the rules for press hard passes and he alleges that these changes are meant to target him.
According to The New York Post, “The move is widely believed to be spurred by interest in stripping African journalist Simon Ateba of his access to the briefing room after a series of disruptions, though people involved in discussions said that White House staff had talked about making changes even before Ateba became a minor celebrity.”
Ateba shared the letter he received:
@WhiteHouse is changing the rules for press hard passes to target me. But I qualify for all those things as we just filed our taxes, are registered with the District of Columbia and have our address in DC. I studied journalism in college, received two degrees, have only worked as a journalist and trained countless people. I also attend briefings religiously and do not have a second job. It’s crazy what’s going on. How can a guy come from Africa and you have to change the rules because of him?
The White House writes, “Dear colleague,
“We are writing to inform you that the White House intends to revise the policy on press hard passes to be consistent with that of prior administrations. Under the policy, all current press hard passes will expire on July 31. You will be able to request renewal of your current hard pass as described below, and any renewed passes will remain valid for one year, subject to annual renewal.
“To renew your pass, your bureau chief/supervisor will need to email a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your news organization will not need to submit multiple letters if requesting hard passes for more than one employee as long as your letter covers all employees requesting hard pass access to the White House campus.
“This letter will need to be written on the official letterhead of your news organization, including contact information for someone who can verify the details provided below, and indicate that each applicant meets the following requirements:
“Full-time employment with an organization whose principal business is news dissemination (If you are freelance, we will need letters from two news organizations describing your affiliation, or, if you freelance primarily for one organization, a letter from that organization describing the extent and duration of your relationship with the organization);
“Physical address (either residential or professional) in the greater Washington, D.C. area;
“Have accessed the White House campus at least once during the prior six months for work, or have proof of employment within the last three months to cover the White House;
“Assignment to cover (or provide technical support in covering) the White House on a regular basis;
“Accreditation by a press gallery in either the Supreme Court, U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives; and Willingness to submit to any necessary investigation by the U.S. Secret Service to determine eligibility for access to the White House complex, where Secret Service will determine eligibility based on whether the applicant presents a potential risk to the safety or security of the President, the Vice President, or the White House complex.
“This letter should be attached, along with a photograph or scan of a Supreme Court, Senate, or House of Representatives credential, and the completed hard pass application and submitted at one time to email@example.com.
“After receiving the letter from your supervisor and updating your background check, the U.S. Secret Service will grant a hard pass upon confirmation from the Press Office that you meet the above criteria. You will not need to receive a new physical pass if you already have one.
“If you currently do not have a hard pass, you will need to complete the standard application and also provide the letter stated above. The Press Office will then be in touch to schedule a time to pick up your hard pass if approved.
“The White House expects that all hard pass holders will act in a professional manner while on White House grounds by respecting their colleagues, White House employees, and guests; observing stated restrictions on access to areas of the White House or credentialed events; and not impeding events or briefings on campus. Absent security concerns involving the United States Secret Service or other exigent circumstances, the White House will provide a written warning to you if your conduct violates these expectations. Subsequent violations may lead to the suspension or revocation of your hard pass, following notice and an opportunity to respond.
If you have comments or questions regarding this proposed policy, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 15.
“Please let us know if you have any questions.
“Sincerely, “The White House Press Office”
BREAKING: The @WhiteHouse is changing the rules for press hard passes to target me. But I qualify for all those things as we just filed our taxes, are registered with the District of Columbia and have our address in DC. I studied journalism in college, received two degrees, have… pic.twitter.com/NMvVF4WSaC
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) May 5, 2023
As you may be aware, the @JoeBiden @WhiteHouse and @PressSec office are revising the press hard pass rules, which several publications have reported specifically target me, an African journalist who has gained recognition across the United States for merely doing my job. These… pic.twitter.com/7Clt2rXkQu
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) May 6, 2023
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