'Absolute chaos': Psaki's final press briefing marred as reporter shouts over other correspondents
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing, Thursday, September 30, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)

During a press briefing at the White House on Friday, more than one reporter was interrupted while questioning outgoing Press Secretary Jen Psaki by a correspondent who seemed to be protesting not getting equal time.

"Jen, I have a question for your last press briefing," Simon Oteba of Today News Africa said while another reporter was trying to ask a question. "Why don't you take questions from [indiscernible] across the room?"

Oteba relented, but interrupted again when Psaki called on another reporter.

"Jen, I have a question from the back," Oteba said before the reporter asked him to stop.

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"Simon, please stop!" the reporter shot back.

Psaki chided him as well.

"Simon, if you could respect your colleagues and other media and reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated."

Oteba continued to interrupt for a few more seconds before he relented again.

In response to the outbursts, Curtis Houck of the conservative Newsbusters outlet, tweeted: "Absolute chaos and lack of decorum inside the White House Briefing Room as Today News Africa's Simon Oteba begins shouting and refusing to shut up even though Psaki has already called on AP's Zeke Miller. Not taking questions from the back is a thing. But this is rude."

Psaki, who always said she didn't expect to keep the high-pressure position more than about a year, is now reportedly on her way to a lucrative host position at MSNBC cable news.

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She's leaving just as a brutal midterm elections campaign starts, domestic problems like inflation and illegal immigration pile up around Biden, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine lurches into ever more complex geopolitical territory.

No doubt that Psaki's successor Karine Jean-Pierre -- making history as the first Black and openly gay person in the job -- can expect a torrid next few months.

Jean-Pierre, however, will also inherit a presidential press operation rebuilt after the anti-media rantings of the Trump White House.

Under Trump, the famous James S. Brady Briefing Room literally gathered dust while the rapidly changing cast of characters in the administration's press shop often seemed mostly concerned with attacking reporters.

Psaki leaves under a minor ethics cloud, given that she was being headhunted by TV outlets -- and negotiating her deal -- while continuing in her daily press secretary duties.

But that aside, there has been widespread praise for her professionalism.

Watch the video below or at this link.

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With additional reporting via AFP

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