Reporter April Ryan is known for asking tough questions that aim to make sure those in power remain accountable to the people they serve. But in the veteran journalist’s new book, she reveals some of her toughest battles have come from her peers.
Ryan has been part of the White House press corps since 1997 but was thrust into the national spotlight under Donald Trump’s administration after several contentious exchanges with his communication officials.
Last year, Ryan had several run-ins with former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who chided her for supposedly having an attitude, and when Sarah Huckabee Sanders took over after Spicer’s departure, the combative relationship continued. Still, Ryan is one of the journalists who consistently get her questions answered, and according to her new book, Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House, at least one of her peers thinks it’s because she’s Black.
“A conservative Black female reporter had openly, in my presence, spoke the wrong words, saying, ‘The only reason you get called on is because you’re Black,'” Ryan wrote in her book.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, she confirmed the reporter she was referring to was Francesca Chambers, the White House correspondent for the Daily Mail. Chambers is also a Black woman, a fact that really bothered Ryan.
“To this day, those words don’t sit well with me,” Ryan admitted in Under Fire. “At that time, I had had enough! ‘Yes!’ I said to her. ‘You ain’t shit!’ In front of everyone, asking her, ‘Who [do] you think you are? You’re Black too, in case you didn’t know it!’”
Chambers’ employer, the Daily Mail issued a statement about Ryan’s account, calling it a “false claim.”
“It is a sad day for journalism when a reporter makes false claims against another reporter to sell a book,” the statement said. “Ms. Ryan knows what she has written to be false and she is also fully aware of the unacceptable way that she has treated Ms. Chambers in the White House for the past two years.’”
Ryan told the Examiner that while the incident was not a good look for either woman, she included it in her book because she has “to be truthful.” She also took to Twitter to demand an apology from the Daily Mail questioning her integrity.
“There were too many witnesses @dailymail @mailonline for you to say @fran_chambers did not do it,” she wrote online. “The reporter asked around and was told and I verified. It is true. Do your own investigation. I wait for a public apology from you! If not I may have to take legal action!”
While Ryan awaits a response from the Daily Mail, Chambers has not addressed the incident.