President Joe Biden erupted at a CNN reporter on Wednesday following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Geneva, Switzerland.
Biden stopped as he was leaving the press conference to answer a question about Americans detained in Russia when CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins asked him about his meeting with Putin.
“Why are you so confident he’ll change his behavior, Mr. President?” Collins asked.
“I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior,” Biden erupted. “Where the hell — what do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident?”
“I said …what I said was, let’s get it straight, I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world,” he continued. “I am not confident of anything. I am just stating the facts.”
“But given his past behavior has not changed and in that press conference after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyberattacks. He downplayed human rights abuses. He even refused to say Alexey Navalny’s name,” Collins pushed. “So how does that account to a constructive meeting, as President Putin put it?”
“If you don’t understand that, you are in the wrong business,” Biden fired back.
President Biden went off on CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the end of his post-summit press conference and suggested she may be "in the wrong business" after she asked why he was "so confident" that Putin will "change his behavior." pic.twitter.com/QhkyT4pEXm
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) June 16, 2021
CNN correspondent Jeff Zeleny later lamented on live television that the media has “not seen” Biden “answer questions” like the one Collins asked “without his aides screaming at him to stop.”
“I have never seen a president—covering the last four of them—who is so protected by his aides in terms of often not wanting him to answer some questions,” Zeleny continued.
CNN on Biden: “I have never seen a president… who is so protected by his aides in terms of often not wanting him to answer some questions.”
— Abigail Marone (@abigailmarone) June 16, 2021
Reporters have started to react negatively toward Biden’s refusal to answer more questions from the media and toward his attitude sometimes when answering the few questions that he does take.
“Any analysis of President Biden that doesn’t sound like praise inspires people to leap to defend him by pointing out the obvious: ‘He’s not Trump!’ He’s not, but he’s not made of glass, either,” New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi tweeted following Biden’s meeting with Putin. “The most powerful person in the world doesn’t need to be cocooned from criticism.”
Any analysis of President Biden that doesn’t sound like praise inspires people to leap to defend him by pointing out the obvious: “He’s not Trump!” He’s not, but he’s not made of glass, either. The most powerful person in the world doesn’t need to be cocooned from criticism.
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) June 16, 2021
Reporter Glenn Greenwald responded to Biden’s outburst by writing on Twitter: “Biden aggressively insulting and demeaning a female reporter while she’s just doing her job, all in front of her colleagues.”
Biden aggressively insulting and demeaning a female reporter while she's just doing her job, all in front of her colleagues:https://t.co/ky1PBBHSJ8
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 16, 2021
Earlier in the week, reporters called out Biden on social media for being hours late to a press conference and then only answering questions from a few reporters who waited for nearly three hours for him to arrive.
“Biden is abroad doing a big push on democracy v autocracy. BUT the U.S. press — a key part of any functioning democracy — has gotten less access than under previous administrations,” Washington Post reporter Ashley Parker tweeted. “And is now forced to resort to updates on from…the Turkish government Twitter account.”
Biden is abroad doing a big push on democracy v autocracy. BUT the U.S. press — a key part of any functioning democracy — has gotten less access than under previous administrations. And is now forced to resort to updates on from…the Turkish government Twitter account. https://t.co/Xa2jkUNnhI
— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) June 14, 2021
“A more than 2.5 hour wait for questions from only a handful of reporters,” CBS News reporter Kathryn Watson tweeted. “Very unfortunate, considering the room full of smart journalists who would have asked so many more important questions. I don’t care whether you love Biden or can’t stand him — more questions from more U.S. reporters is a good thing, to get more answers or even more non-answers. Because those can be telling, too.”