In a dramatic turn of events, a routine White House press conference turned into a heated exchange between reporters, eventually leading to the early termination of the briefing. Here’s what happened.
The incident revolved around Steven Nelson, a New York Post journalist known for criticizing the White House, who engaged in a confrontational interruption with Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
The tension unfolded as Jean-Pierre prepared to address another reporter’s question when Nelson abruptly interrupted with his own question.
“You Should Be Ashamed”
“You haven’t called on me in two seasons, Karine,” Nelson said.
“I’m not calling on you today,” Jean-Pierre replied, redirecting her attention to another journalist, saying, “Go ahead.”
Undeterred, Nelson interrupted once more, saying, “You should be ashamed of that.”
He continued, “That shows disrespect to a free and independent media to blacklist one of our country’s largest and most widely read newspapers, Karine. That shows contempt for a free and independent press.”
Jean-Pierre Changed the Topic
Attempting to regain control of the situation, Jean-Pierre replied, “I’m calling on somebody who I haven’t called on for a long time as well. Go ahead.”
Eyewitnesses noted that the atmosphere quickly worsened, with raised voices and flaring tempers.
Despite efforts to restore order, the press conference was forced to conclude prematurely due to the escalating tension.
He Took to Twitter
Following the argument, Nelson took to his social media account to address the incident.
He wrote, “The NY Post is our country’s oldest daily newspaper. We have the fourth-largest print circulation, and only The New York Times has more web traffic. The Press Secretary last called on me in May and on a colleague in July.”
He linked to a previous exchange in May, which also revolved around press freedom issues and the Biden administration’s pre-screening process for reporters at exclusive events.
This Is Not the First Time
This recent clash is not the first instance of Steven Nelson’s confrontations with the White House. As an outspoken critic of President Joe Biden, Nelson has frequently engaged in contentious exchanges with administration officials.
In June, he even confronted President Biden, questioning him about allegations of involvement in a bribery scheme with Ukrainian officials.
Nelson asked, “Why did the Ukraine FBI informant file refer to you as the ‘Big Guy,’ Mr. Biden?”
In response, President Biden paused and said, “Why’d you ask such a dumb question?”
Twitter Users Expressed Their Views
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “I don’t know why we have these. I don’t believe anything anymore at these pressures… In my view, they’re a joke… unworthy of the serious and important role it has. So disappointing.”
Another user added, “Remember how during the Trump admin, the courageous hacks forfeited their question back to those that the Press Sec ignored?”
A third user commented, “The press really does need to start standing up for one another. The next person she calls on should refuse to engage with her until she starts doing her job.”
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / lev radin