Ted Lasso Cast Joins WH Presser, Faces a Heckler

Simon Ateba of Today News Africa goes after press secretary Jean-Pierre in testy exchange
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2023 10:15 AM CDT
Peeved Reporter Mars WH Presser With Ted Lasso Cast
Jason Sudeikis, second from left, who plays the title character in the Apple TV series "Ted Lasso," and fellow cast members Brett Goldstein, left, and Hannah Waddingham, right, join White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during a press briefing at the White House on Monday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

On Sunday evening, President Biden tweeted a photo taped over the entrance to the Oval Office, reading simply: "Believe." It was a cute signal of what was to come Monday: the cast of the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso converging upon the White House to help the Biden administration talk about the importance of mental health, reports CNN. Before meeting with Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden, actors Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, Brett Goldstein, and other cast members attended the White House's daily briefing, led by press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, where, not unlike the news conferences faced by the Ted Lasso character, things got a little testy.

As Deadline reports, the presser was "nearly derailed" by Simon Ateba of Today News Africa, a reporter who started shouting out that Jean-Pierre hadn't called on him in months. "No. No. No," Jean-Pierre replied. "We're not doing this. We're not doing this." Ateba did calm down, but then started up again after the actors had exited. That's when other reporters began pushing back on Ateba, who the Hill notes has slammed Jean-Pierre during briefings in the past. Snippets of the back-and-forth can be seen and heard in a clip circulating on Twitter. "If you have grievances, you should bring them to her later," says one irritated journalist, identified as Reuters correspondent and past White House Correspondents' Association chief Jeff Mason.

Longtime White House reporter Brian Karem also blasted Ateba, telling him: "Mind your manners when you're in here. ... You are impinging on everybody in here who's only trying to do their job." A calm Jean-Pierre then addressed the hubbub at the podium, noting, "I understand that there's gonna be give and take. ... But what I will not appreciate is disrespecting your colleagues and disrespecting guests." She called Ateba's outbursts "unacceptable." Tamara Keith, the current WHCA president, agreed, calling the incident an "extreme breakdown of decorum" that "created a hostile work environment for everyone in that room," per Deadline. (There was another surprise at the presser.)

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