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Biden apologizes after going off on reporter over question about Putin

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The president said he 'shouldn't have been such a wise guy'

Thierry Monasse/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Joe Biden lost his cool with a U.S. reporter in Geneva on Wednesday over the journalist's question regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The exchange went viral, sparking condemnation from other U.S. reporters. Afterward, Biden apologized for his response, saying he "shouldn't have been such a wise guy."

What are the details?

Following his summit with Putin, Biden held a press conference where he took questions from a list of pre-approved journalists, Fox News reported. But as the president turned and walked away, he decided to respond to questions shouted from the press pool.

That's when CNN's Kaitlan Collins asked, "Why are you so confident he'll change his behavior, Mr. President?" referring to Putin.

"I'm not confident he'll change his behavior," a visibly frustrated Biden replied. "What the hell! What do you do all the time?"

Biden then raised a finger and began walking toward Collins, saying, "When did I say I was confident? 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."

Collins pressed back, replying, "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's downplayed human rights abuses, he even refused to say Alexei Navalny's name. So, how does that amount to a constructive meeting?"

"If you don't understand that, you're in the wrong business," Biden told the reporter.


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Several other U.S. reporters took to social media condemning Biden for his treatment of Collins, and her name became a trending topic on Twitter.

New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi tweeted, "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." Nuzzi added, "What kind of example does it set for other countries when the president of the United States insults a member of the free press on an international stage for asking a fair question in good faith?"

Glenn Greenwald described video of the exchange as showing "Biden aggressively insulting and demeaning a female reporter while she's just doing her job, all in front of her colleagues."

Before boarding Air Force One afterward, Biden stopped to tell the White House press pool, "I owe my last questioner an apology. I shouldn't have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave."

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