- Thursday, July 6, 2023

The White House has some explaining to do.

Last week, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre clashed with a reporter she routinely ignores. But the fiery exchange somehow disappeared from an official live stream.

Simon Ateba, White House correspondent for Today News Africa, and Ms. Jean-Pierre got into it on June 26 after President Biden’s spokesman said, “Here, at the White House, under this administration, we’re committed to the freedom of the press.”

“So, are you going to take questions from me?” Mr. Ateba asked, according to the official transcript. “Are you going to take questions from me because you’ve been discriminating against me for the past nine months?”

Other reporters ganged up on their colleague, with one saying: “Please stop. How is she discriminating against you?”

Ms. Jean-Pierre then called on another reporter.

“Please. Allow me to do my job and ask my question,” Mr. Ateba said.

The two continued to wrangle and interrupt each other until Ms. Jean-Pierre said: “OK, if this continues, we’re going to end the press briefing.”

“I’ve been in this briefing room. I’ve been trying to ask you one question when I am on,” Mr. Ateba said to Ms. Jean-Pierre. “You’re not giving freedom of the press.”

“If this continues — you’re being incredibly rude,” she said. Mr. Ateba attempted to ask a question, and she repeated her assessment of the situation.

All that disappeared from the feed — until Fox News asked about the missing exchange.

“After Fox News Digital reached out for comment about the missing exchange, the portion of the missing video was then restored to the stream,” Fox reported. “The White House told Fox News that the portion missing was caused by an error with the encoder that feeds the live stream to YouTube.”

Mr. Ateba told Fox News he was skeptical about the claim, saying the White House likely intentionally removed the exchange.

“He told Fox News that he has been consistently marginalized, saying he has been iced out of White House events, his emails go unanswered, and he has been ignored in press briefings for months,” Fox wrote.

“What happens is if you do that, if you make the comfortable uncomfortable what happens to you is they try and sideline you. And the other people will be afraid to even come near you because [they] don’t want to be seen close to you, because then they won’t get questions at the next press briefing, then they won’t be invited to social events,” he said.

Ms. Jean-Pierre actually stormed out of a press briefing last December after Mr. Ateba demanded that he be given a chance to ask a question.

The latest exchange came after reports that the White House often alters transcripts of the president’s speeches and remarks.

Sometimes, the transcript throws in a [sic] when Mr. Biden misspeaks. Other times, the stenographer adds a bracketed correction to Mr. Biden’s error. And every once in a while, the White House just cuts out Mr. Biden’s bizarre word salads altogether.

In just the month of June, there are a ton of examples.

“Last summer, I had the honor of bestowing the Presidential Meda- — Medal of Freemon [sic] — Freedom on distinguished Americans” (June 16).

“And I’m pleased we’re also joined by x-pay [sic] — xBk, a small venue in Des Moines, Iowa, that’s going be using all upfront pricing for its hundred events at — a year as well” (June 15).

“Let me tell you, the Inflation Reduction Act includes $369 billion to comat [sic] — combat climate change” (June 14).

“We made clear — they made clear that we’d rather th- — they’d rather threaten the default of the U.S. economy than cut or get rid of, for example, $30 billion in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies who made $200 million [sic] last year — billion. I said ‘million.’ Billion dollars last year” (June 14).

“Transgester [sic] Americans — transgender Americans serving in the United States military” (June 10).

“This could have been the week that a catastrophic — catastrophic devault [sic] — default happened” (June 6).

Other times, the White House edits the transcript to fix Mr. Biden’s errors, such as striking through whatever random word he actually said and bracketing what he should have said.

“Forty million — 40 million Americans already drinking water that thousands of farmers rely on for — for integration [irrigation]. And 40 million count on that river and so do the farmers.” (June 19).

“Folks, flood mitigation: $3.5 million [billion] to reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings” (June 19).

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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