Biden apologises for snapping at CNN reporter: ‘I shouldn’t have been such a wiseguy’

·2 min read
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Geneva Airport in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021 (AP)
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Geneva Airport in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021 (AP)

President Joe Biden has apologised after snapping at a CNN reporter at a press conference following his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

Asked why he was “confident” that Mr Putin would change his behaviour by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Mr Biden appeared agitated, responding: “I’m not confident.”

“What the hell, what do you do all the time?” he asked.

As Collins tried to speak, Mr Biden continued, saying: “When did I say I was confident?

“Let’s get this straight,” the president said. “I said what will change their behaviour is if the rest of the world reacts to them and diminishes their standing in the world.

“I’m not confident of anything,” Mr Biden said. “I’m just stating a fact.”

Collins asserted that Mr Putin has previously not changed his behaviour, saying that even in a press conference after meeting with Mr Biden, the Russian leader had denied involvement in cyber attacks and appeared to downplay human rights abuses.

“So, how does that account to a constructive meeting?” she asked.

“If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” Mr Biden snapped.

Later, however, the president went to address reporters near Air Force One and apologised for his response to Collins’ questions.

“I apologise for having been short,” he told reporters.

However, he said: “You never ask positive questions.”

“Look, to be a good reporter, you’ve gotta be negative,” the president continued. “You’ve gotta have a negative view of life, it seems to me, the way you all ... you never ask a positive question.”

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In a live report from Geneva minutes after the exchange, Collins defended her question and said she felt that her queries were justified.

“You saw President Putin come out at that press conference and do essentially some of things he has been criticised for,” she said.

Mr Biden’s response to her questions also drew backlash from other journalists, with New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi tweeting: “If you’re the most powerful person in the world and you can’t field questions from the media without losing your temper, maybe you’re in the wrong business.”

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