NewsBusters Podcast: Heroic Acosta vs. 'Why Won't Ateba Stop Shouting?'

July 28th, 2023 10:22 PM

The New York Times and The Washington Post really demonstrated a double standard this month on confrontational White House reporters. CNN's screaming Jim Acosta was a heroic screamer in the briefing room, while screaming African reporter Simon Ateba should sit down and shut up.

Managing editor Curtis Houck -- our chronicler and video-tweeter of the White House Briefing  -- joins the show to talk about press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the White House Correspondents Assocation taking a very hostile pose toward Ateba. 

Check out the contrast. The New York Times Editorial Board, November of 2018:

Let Jim Acosta Do His Job

The CNN correspondent had every right to aggressively question the president. His White House pass should be restored.

They also ran a Mark Landler analysis headlined “Even for This President, It Was a Remarkable Week of Attacks on American Institutions.”

The Times this week, July 26: 

Why Won’t Simon Ateba Stop Shouting?

The Today News Africa gadfly has become a hero on the right, thanks to his confrontational behavior in the White House briefing room.

Joseph Bernstein, who’s not one of their media reporters, underlined Ateba received a two-page letter from the White House. 

What had Ateba done to deserve such an admonishment? There was a list of his misbehavior. He had "interrupted the press secretary" and "did not stop interrupting" other reporters. Bernstein added "If Mr. Ateba did not stop interrupting, the letter concluded, he might be barred from the briefing room altogether. For the past year and a half, that cramped, 49-seat theater at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been the main stage for the Simon Ateba show..."

Then there's The Washington Post, July 8, media reporter Paul Farhi: 

Simon Ateba, the reporter making himself the story at the White House

The journalist has alienated colleagues, agitated press secretaries and delighted conservative media by interrupting to claim he has been overlooked. But what’s his question?

Farhi wrote: "Ateba’s behavior has made him a rising star on Twitter and YouTube and a darling of right-wing media outlets. Fox News, the Daily Caller, Breitbart, among others, have portrayed him as a victim of censorship by the Biden White House and the “liberal” mainstream media. In an interview before being fired by Fox earlier this year, Tucker Carlson described Ateba as 'the one guy in the room who asked real questions.' Except it’s not really clear what questions Ateba has been seeking to ask. His serial interruptions typically begin and end with a protest about how the press secretary hasn’t allowed him to ask his question."

Then the Post in July 2017, also Paul Farhi: 

‘Grandstanding’ or truth teller? CNN’s Acosta walks a fine line with Trump.

Sean Spicer said everything we would have said about Acosta: "I think he's gone well beyond the role of reporter and steered into the role of advocate. He's the prime example of a [reporter in a] competitive, YouTube, click-driven industry," Spicer added. "He's recognized that if you make a spectacle on the air then you'll get more airtime and more clicks.... If I were a mainstream, veteran reporter, I'd be advocating for him to knock it off. It's hurting the profession." Bingo. 

Acosta said that today the president and the issues have changed but that he hasn't. "This is not a crusade," he said. "This is not partisan. This is journalism. We're trying to hold them to account.'"

We also discuss how White House reporters asked some real questions about the Hunter Biden plea deal fiasco. Enjoy the podcast below, or wherever you listen to podcasts.