President Joe Biden lashed out at CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins following the conclusion of his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, curtly telling the reporter that she was “in the wrong business” while accusing her of misinterpreting his remarks.
At the end of his Wednesday press conference in Geneva, following his meeting with the Russian leader, Biden was walking off the stage when Collins, who had not been called on by the president, shouted out a question: “Why are you so confident that [Putin] will change his behavior, Mr. President?”
Biden stopped in his tracks and turned back to walk towards the correspondent, growling: “I’m not confident he’ll change his behavior! What the hell—what do you do all the time? When did I say I was confident? I said—what I said is, let’s get this straight—I said what will change his behavior is if the rest of the world reacts then it diminishes their standing in the world.”
The president reiterated that he wasn’t “confident in anything” before insisting he was merely “stating the facts.” The CNN reporter, meanwhile, took the opportunity to expand on her initial query.
“But given his past behavior, after the press conference, he denied any involvement in cyberattacks, he downplayed human rights abuses, he even refused to say Alexei Navalny’s name,” Collins asked. “So how does that account to a constructive meeting?”
Rather than answer the question, Biden instead insulted the reporter. “If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” he replied before briskly walking away.
Gathering with reporters moments later at an airport tarmac before boarding Air Force One, the president had evidently cooled down, offering a mea culpa to the CNN reporter.
“I owe my last questioner an apology,” Biden noted. “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave."