Before departing Switzerland following his Wednesday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Biden apologized for being “such a wise guy" while addressing a CNN reporter moments earlier.
“I owe my last questioner an apology," Biden said to reporters on the tarmac in Geneva. "I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave.”
"To be a good reporter you have to be negative at life,” Biden continued. “You are the brightest people in the country, but [it] makes no sense for me to negotiate with you.
“I apologize for having been short,” he added.
As he was walking out of a solo press conference following his meeting with Putin, Biden bristled at a shouted question from CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, who asked why Biden is "so confident" that Putin would change his behavior after their summit.
"I'm not confident he'll change his behavior. What in the hell?" Biden said as he turned around to address Collins directly. "When did I say I was confident?"
He then walked back to Collins, with a finger raised, as he explained his position.
"What I said was — let's get this straight — what I said was what will change the behavior is the rest of the world to them and diminishes their standing in the world," Biden said. "I'm not confident of anything. I'm just stating the fact."
Collins continued to press the president on Putin's evasiveness.
She pointed out that in Putin's own press conference, which came after his sit-down with Biden, the Russian president denied any involvement in cyberattacks, downplayed human rights abuses and refused to say the name of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
"So how does that amount to a constructive meeting?" Collins asked.
"If you don't understand that, you're in the wrong business," Biden replied before walking away.
On CNN, Collins said she appreciated Biden’s apology but stressed that it was “completely unnecessary.”
Clashes between presidents and the press corps are nothing new. Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, seemed to relish sparring with reporters, branding seemingly all unfavorable stories about him as "fake news." Trump also frequently disparaged female reporters, including Collins, during press conferences and pool sprays.
But unlike Biden, Trump never apologized publicly.
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