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 August 13, 2023

Reporter files discrimination lawsuit against the Biden White House

A journalist has just filed a federal lawsuit against the administration of President Joe Biden, the New York Post reports

The reporter is Simon Ateba.

NTD News reports, "[Ateba] is the founder and chief White House correspondent for Today News Africa—which covers politics in the United States and relations between the United States and African nations."

The reader, however, may know Ateba for a different reason - for his frequent run-ins with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in the White House briefing room. Ateba, on numerous occasions, has confronted Jean-Pierre for not calling on him, accusing her of discrimination.

Back in early May, the White House announced new rules for press badges. Additionally, the White House announced a process, for the first time in U.S. history, whereby a journalist could lose his or her credentials.

On Aug. 1, Ateba, along with over 400 other reporters, lost their passes.

Politico's West Wing Playbook reports, "Within the past three months, the number of hard pass holders dropped from 1417 to 975, with those approved reflecting a mix of renewals and new applications."

Now, Ateba has responded by suing Jean-Pierre and the U.S. Secret Service. He accuses them of violating his First Amendment right to freedom of the press and his Fifth Amendment right to due process.

The lawsuit states, "Defendants violated Mr. Ateba’s First Amendment rights by changing the criteria for hard pass credentials to intentionally prevent Mr. Ateba from obtaining hard pass access."

It continues, "Defendants did so by adopting credentialing criteria specifically designed to exclude Mr. Ateba from eligibility. Such discrimination amounts to a content-based regulation and viewpoint discrimination against Mr. Ateba in violation of the First Amendment."

It is unclear whether Ateba will be successful in court.

Previously, federal courts prevented the Trump administration from suspending or revoking the hard passes of reporters because there was no process set up to do so. Now, however, there is a process. Still, it is unclear how the courts will rule.

In the meantime, this is not a good look for the Biden administration, which has faced much criticism for its lack of transparency.

Ateba's lawsuit sums the matter up nicely. It begins:

The press’ does not just include a small class of elite journalists, credentialed by one another. The First Amendment’s guarantees protect the public’s right to engage in constitutionally protected press activity. Indeed, the inclusion of the words "the press" in the First Amendment does not confer upon [journalists] a title of nobility.

Written By:
Robert Ayers

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