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Jen Psaki’s Last Briefing is Stopped by Fiery Outburst After Refusing to Answer Questions From an African American News Correspondent

Jen Psaki held her 224th and final briefing as White House press secretary on Friday afternoon and it included quite the verbal battle with a reporter. 

Psaki thanked press office colleagues and members of the media, telling the reporters, “You have challenged me, you have pushed me, you have debated me, and at times we have disagreed. That is democracy in action. That is it working.” 

Psaki faced questions on crises old and new, foreign and domestic. She addressed the baby formula shortage and gun violence, immigration and war. That is when the briefing went off the rails after one reporter repeatedly shouted a question about fair access in the room.

Simon Ateba, the chief White House correspondent for Today News Africa, shouted “Why don’t you take questions from across the room? Because that’s not what you’ve done for the past 15 months,” after trying to address the ongoing baby formula shortage. 

Psaki has been criticized in the past for strictly sticking to answering questions from reporters in the first few rows of the briefing room, often missing out on questions from outlets such as The Post, the Washington Examiner, Al Jazeera and other foreign media.

Psaki has refused to explain the criteria for choosing which reporters are allowed to attend presidential events, but the practice is believed to be a way of shaping the variety of questions presented to the president. Reporters have been given a range of conflicting explanations and some major news outlets are almost never permitted to attend.

Psakis most common sparring partner Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy called press secretary Jen Psaki’s exit from the White House “the end of an era”.

During an interview on “Fox & Friends” ahead of Psaki’s last briefing, Doocy credited her for making him a better reporter after the show played a montage of the pair’s exchanges during White House press briefings.

“It’s not just me asking questions. She would ask me questions right back. When I would go in there with something that was not part of the White House talking point for the day, she would ask me every single time ‘Who was saying that about us?’ or ‘Where are you getting that from?’” Doocy said. 

“And so I always had to have it ready right away, and I think that all that extra homework that I knew I had to do because, when I challenged her she would challenge me right back, probably has made me a better reporter,” he continued. “And so, I am grateful to her for that.”

Doocy and Psaki have been known for their back-and-forths in the briefing room as Doocy questioned the administration on a slew of issues, sometimes eliciting quipps from the White House press secretary. 

Her successor is Jean-Pierre, who is a natural fit behind the White House podium, since she has filled in for Psaki on multiple occasions.

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