The White House press briefing featuring the Ted Lasso cast descended into chaos Monday before it even started when a disruptive reporter berated Karine Jean-Pierre for not taking questions from him.
Jason Sudeikis was supposed to be discussing mental health with the co-stars of the award-winning show when Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba started yelling at President Biden’s press secretary.
“You’re making a mockery of the First Amendment… It’s been seven months and you haven’t visited me,” he told the press secretary as the cast looked on in bewilderment.
“You discriminate against me and discriminate against some people at the briefing,” he shouted as other members of the press and Sudeikis and other celebrities looked on.
“This isn’t China, this isn’t Russia,” he added when reporters stepped in and told him they had had enough of his behavior. Jean-Pierre has often admonished Ateba in the past, but this time journalists in the room demanded that he keep himself quiet so that the day’s event — the only recorded interaction with senior White House officials — could begin.
“You’re attacking anyone here who’s just trying to do their job,” reporter Brian Karem said, and another correspondent said, “The rest of us are here too, buddy.”
The White House press briefing featuring the Ted Lasso cast descended into chaos Monday when a reporter berated Karine Jean-Pierre for not taking questions from him
Jason Sudeikis appeared to be discussing mental health with the award-winning show’s co-stars as Today News Africa correspondent Simon Ateba (center) began berating President Biden’s press secretary
Ateba’s outburst came before Jean-Pierre or the celebrities she had behind her had even had a chance to speak.
Jean-Pierre tried to talk about Ateba, who has interrupted her several times in the past, yelling, “No. No. No. No. No. We’re not doing this. We’re not doing this,” she said, holding up her finger.
She turned to Sudeikis and joked, “Welcome to the press room.”
‘Are we done? Are we going to behave,’ said Jean-Pierre after a long pause.
After Ateba interrupted again, individual reporters urged him to stop. “Decorum, please,” said NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, a longtime reporter and member of the White House Correspondents’ Association.
Ateba has received several complaints and the White House Correspondents Association has warned him about his behavior. The group provides regular updates on ‘decorum’ in its outreach to members.
The White House, which holds press records for the building.
Only after the tense confrontation could Sudeikis speak. He and the cast of ‘Ted Lasso’ were seen entering the White House residence before the event. He gave a short pitch about mental health.
“It doesn’t matter who you are… we all know someone… who is struggling, feeling isolated, feeling anxious, feeling alone,” he said.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby then came to the stage to discuss the meeting between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, and Ateba again tried to intervene.
Later in the briefing, an Associated Press White House correspondent apologized on behalf of the press, telling Jean-Pierre, “This isn’t about us.”
Ateba spoke aloud again, but not shouting this time. “The American people want you to be honest with everyone,” he said.
Jean-Pierre circled back to make her point later. “What I won’t appreciate is disrespecting your colleagues and disrespecting guests who come here to talk about an incredibly important topic, which is mental health,” she said. “What happened in the last 10 or 15 minutes is unacceptable.”
Sudeikis, who plays Coach Ted Lasso, was able to make a mental health statement after the first stoppage.
“The big theme of the show is to reach out to your neighbor, your co-worker, your friends, your family, and ask how they are doing, and to listen sincerely,” Sudeikis said.
“You all ask questions for a living, but you all listen for a living. So who am I preaching to? The choir, yes.’
He added, “And while it’s easier said than done, we also need to know that we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help ourselves.”
Cast members Brett Goldstein, Hannah Waddingham, Brendan Hunt and Toheeb Jimoh stood on opposite sides of the stage.
Jason Sudeikis, who plays Coach Lasso, has managed to make a statement about mental health
Sudeikis is flanked by fellow Ted Lasso cast members Brett Goldstein and Hannah Waddingham as he hugs Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
‘Contact your neighbour, your colleague, your friends, your family and ask how they are doing. And listen sincerely,” Sudeikis told the briefing room
Jean-Pierre warned Ateba: “We are not doing this. We don’t do this’
The real life chaos came before actor James Lance, who plays journalist Trent Crimm on the ‘Ted Lasso’ show, posed the one real question to Sudeikis
The tense confrontation came on what the White House had framed as a light-hearted moment, albeit on a serious subject. Jean-Pierre previously hosted members of the K-Pop band BTS, though the group announced it was taking a hiatus shortly after their visit.
There was even a moment with British actor James Lance, who plays journalist Trent Crimm on the show, standing among reporters to ask Sudeikas a question.
The confrontation came days after Ateba Appeared on Fox News Opinion Host of Tucker Carlson’s Show. The host called him “one of the best in the business.”
Ateba announced he would be appearing on the show again on Monday night.
It was just the latest in a series of confrontations for Ateba in the briefing room.
During the last briefing of Jean-Pierre’s predecessor, Jen Psaki, he exclaimed “Do you want to answer a question from the back of the room?” – interrupting both colleagues and Psaki.
“Simon, please stop,” ABC’s Mary Bruce said.
“If you can spread the questions from across the room and all of us to the back of the room,” Ateba yelled.
The most recent article on Ateba’s News Africa website is dated February 16 and consists of three paragraphs. It quotes a press release from the International Monetary Fund on the date of a spring meeting of the IMF and the World Bank Group.