White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre snapped at reporters who raised questions about the origins of COVID-19 during Tuesday’s press briefing, which featured outgoing White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.
During questions after the White House coronavirus response team updated reporters on the administration’s vaccine efforts, Daily Caller White House correspondent Diana Glebova attempted to ask a question regarding what Fauci has done to investigate the origins of COVID-19. But Jean-Pierre shut Glebova down and rebuked her for speaking out of turn.
“We have a process here. I’m not calling out on people who yell. And you’re being … disrespectful to your colleagues, and you’re being disrespectful to our guest,” Jean-Pierre said. “I will not call on you if you yell, and also you’re taking time off the clock because Dr. Fauci has to leave in a couple of minutes.”
When Glebova objected, Jean-Pierre said she was “done” and was “not getting into a back-and-forth with you.”
Then Today News Africa journalist Simon Ateba spoke up and said her question was valid and should be asked.
“You need to call people across the room. She has a valid question, she’s asked about the origin of COVID,” Ateba said.
“It is not your turn,” Jean-Pierre shot back. “I hear your question, but we’re not doing this the way you want it. This is disrespectful … Simon, I’m done. Simon, I’m done. I’m done with you right now. You’re taking time away from your colleagues.”
Fauci, who will step down as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in December, has faced questions from Republican lawmakers over his agency’s support for coronavirus research in China.
NIAID has provided millions of dollars in grant funding to EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit group that GOP critics claim has supported bat coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers interested in the lab-leak origins theory of COVID-19 want to probe whether that research was the genesis of the pandemic and whether Fauci played any role in approving money that was sent to the Wuhan lab.