President Joe Biden got into a shouting match with a CNN reporter after she asked how he could possibly consider his meeting with Russian President Vladimir President a diplomatic success. Biden then confronted numerous reporters about the media’s allegedly negative coverage of his administration before jetting back to the White House.
The president had concluded a relatively calm and measured press conference discussing his three-hour meeting with Putin when he stopped to answer a question shouted out by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
“Why are you so confident he’ll change his behavior, Mr. President?” she asked.
“I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior,” Biden said, turning around and walking back toward Collins.
Then, Biden snapped.
“Where in the Hell?!” Biden said. “What do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident?”
“What I said was — let’s get it straight!” Biden continued, talking over Collins as she attempted to answer him. “I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them, and they diminishes [sic] their standing in the world. I’m not confident of anything, just stating a fact.”
Collins noted that, during his own post-meeting press conference earlier that afternoon, Putin denied any involvement in Russian-based cyberattacks against vital U.S. companies and brushed off complaints about his human rights record.
“How does that amount to a constructive meeting as a president?” she asked.
“If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” Biden retorted before walking off.
Not finished fuming, Biden continued to fulminate about the media’s putatively negative coverage of his administration during a press gaggle as he was about to board Air Force One.
A male reporter asked a follow-up to Collins’ question, generously offering, “Maybe you could take another stab at it … What concrete evidence do you have from these three-plus hours that suggests that any movement has been made?”
Biden bared his teeth and looked away before assailing the entire journalistic profession.
“Look, to be a good reporter you’ve got to be negative. You’ve got to have a negative view of life, you know, it seems to me, the way you all — you never ask a positive question,” Biden groused.
He briefly apologized for his handling of Collins, before airing a list of largely imaginary grievances with reporters’ coverage of his administration.
“The thing that always gets me about the question — and I apologize for having been short — if you were in my position, would you say, ‘Well, I don’t think, Man, anything’s going to happen. I think it’s gonna be rough. I think it’s really gonna be bad?’” Biden asked, significantly slurring his words. “You’d guarantee nothing happens.”
“Look, you all say the same thing about what was going to happen about the first meeting of the [G]7,” he continued. “‘Oh Biden, they’re not going to buy Biden’s stuff there.’”
“Did that happen? Any of it — a little bit, just a little sliver of it?” he asked, confronting the press corps around him.
“When I went to meet with NATO: ‘Oh boy, they’re not going to be happy. They’re all gonna be against Biden meeting with Putin. …’ Did you hear a single, solitary syllable?” he asked.
“And the same way when I was at the E.U.: ‘E.U.’s not going to like the way Biden’s operating,’” he continued.
After a reporter pointed out the significant difference between dealing with Vladimir Putin and the EU, Biden resumed his indictment of the media.
“Look, guys, I’m gonna drive y’all crazy, because I know you want me to always put a negative thrust on things, particularly in public,” he said.
Biden then abruptly pivoted by expressing his admiration for the media.
“You’re the brightest people in the country. You’re the most important people on detail,” he told journalists. “I’m not being solicitous. You are.”
He then complained again, “You are all writing — not illegitimately — ‘Biden gave Putin what he wants: legitimacy.’” He then departed for Washington at approximately 8:30 Geneva time.
Biden, 78, has previously shown flashes of anger on the campaign trail, calling voters who posed negative questions “fat” or a “dog-faced pony soldier.”
He has also consistently complained about negative media coverage, claiming without evidence that the media “said it’s not possible” to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office. In fact, the nation was already on trajectory to meet that goal before he took office. CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale rated Biden’s remarks false.
Biden has enjoyed less negative media coverage than any president on record, spanning nearly 30 years, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.