President Biden lashed out at a CNN reporter in a sharp, confrontational exchange after she questioned him on why he was so “confident” that Russian President Vladimir Putin would change his malign behavior following the high-stakes summit.
Concluding his short 33-minute press conference Wednesday, Biden only took six questions, with four of those pre-selected and the other two shouted at him. He spent just half the time and took half the questions Putin fielded during his own news conference.
As Biden attempted to exit the venue, reporters continued to shout questions, with one of those being from CNN’s Kaitlin Collins getting his attention to stop.
“Why are you so confident he’ll change his behavior, Mr. President?” Collins shouted at Biden.
“I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior!” Biden shot back as he walked toward Collins with his finger in the air. “What the hell, what do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident?”
“What I said was — let’s get this straight — I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacted to them and they diminished their standing in the world,” Biden angrily added. “I’m not confident of anything. I’m 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, Putin denied any involvement in cyberattacks, he downplayed human rights abuses, he even refused to say Alexei Navalny’s name,” Collins noted while pressing the president again.
“So, how does that account to a constructive meeting?” Collins asked.
Biden, growingly visibly angry, erupted again toward Collins.
“If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” Biden snappily responded, refusing to answer her question as he stormed off.
Shortly after boarding Air Force One, Biden speaking to reporters, apologized “for having been short” with Collins and that he shouldn’t have been a “wise guy.”
“I apologize for having been short,” Biden said, telling reporters gathered on the tarmac, “You never ask positive questions.”
“I owe my last questioner an apology. I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave,” Biden added.
During her CNN live report hit, Collins said that she was “just doing” her job in questioning the president but appreciated that Biden apologized in “front of the other reporters,” even though she said, “he didn’t have to.”
“That is completely unnecessary from the President. He did not have to apologize, though I do appreciate he did in front of the other reporters as he was about to get on Air Force One,” Collins said. “When I was asking him that question, I was just doing my job, which is to question the President, regardless if they’re a Democrat or a Republican, and asking the President a question does not mean it has a negative slant or a positive slant.”
“It is simply a way to get into the President’s mindset of how he is viewing something, something as major as a meeting with a world leader who has interfered in US elections, jailed his political opponents, dismissed human rights, as he did at a press conference here in Geneva just earlier today. And I do appreciate the President’s apology, but it is not necessary. Because, of course, it’s just our job to ask the President questions, that’s the business that we are in,” Collins added.