May 22, 2024

Journalist Simon Ateba Warns of Potential Threat to Press Freedom as White House Revamps Hard Pass Rules

Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba

Renowned journalist Simon Ateba has raised concerns over proposed changes to the White House’s policy on press hard passes, warning that the alterations seemingly targeting him could eventually affect other journalists as well.

Ateba, an African journalist who has gained recognition across the United States due to his dedication to truth, facts, and equity, took to Twitter to express his concerns and to remind the public of President Biden’s World Press Freedom Day statement, in which he declared that journalism is not a crime.

Ateba pointed out that he meets all the requirements set by the White House for press hard passes, yet the new policy could be detrimental to him and, in the long run, to other journalists as well. He believes the situation contributes to the lack of trust in the media and politicians in Washington and warns that subsequent administrations may use the altered rules to target journalists, complicating the hard pass process.

In a tweet to his followers, Ateba wrote, “As you may be aware, the Joe Biden White House and Press Secretary’s office are revising the press hard pass rules, which several publications have reported specifically target me, an African journalist who has gained recognition across the United States for merely doing my job. These changes are set to take effect on July 31. Numerous publications have reported that the new rules seem to be aimed at Simon Ateba.

“While I don’t feel upset that the entire White House rules are being amended due to my presence, it is ironic that these alterations come shortly after President Biden’s statement on World Press Freedom Day, declaring that journalism is not a crime. It seems that if you genuinely excel at your job, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) and the White House will join forces to target you.

“This situation contributes to the lack of trust that the American public has in the media and politicians in Washington. I am uncertain about who will be president on July 31 or who will win the next election, but that shouldn’t be a factor. At present, other journalists remain silent, believing that the rules only target me; however, these regulations may soon be used against them as well. When a new administration assumes power, they might forget that it was their predecessors who altered the rules, making it easier to target journalists and complicating the hard pass process.

“According to the new rules, news organizations must be independent. Yet, I am unaware of any truly independent individuals present in the White House press corps, and I know several who work for government-funded outlets. I am determined to continue doing my job and will not be easily deterred. May God help us all.”

The White House has not responded to Ateba’s claims, but many have expressed support for him and urged the administration to reconsider its policy. The changes are set to take effect on July 31, raising questions about press freedom and the role of journalists in the United States.

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