President Joe Biden got short with NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell on Monday when she asked him a simple question about COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The incident occurred in the Oval Office where Biden was meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
O’Donnell raised the issue of an impending Department of Veterans Affairs employee vaccine mandate, and the president cut her off.
“You are such a pain in the neck, but I’m going to answer your question because we’ve known each other so long,” Biden said.
O’Donnell interjected, “I take that as a compliment, Mr. President,” which brought a smile to Biden’s face.
“You are such a pain in the neck, but I’m going to answer your question,” President Biden said to a reporter while meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi at the White House. pic.twitter.com/q8H3Sjkzeg
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) July 26, 2021
“It has nothing to do with Iraq,” he said in response to her question. “Yes, Veteran Affairs is going to, in fact, require that all doctors working in their facilities are going to have to be vaccinated.”
O’Donnell noted in a tweet afterward that Biden did not answer her question whether the vaccine mandate would be extended in the future to include other federal employees.
NEW:The president called me a “pain in the neck” (with a smile) as I pressed him on a NEW mandate for doctors at @DeptVetAffairs hospitals to get the COVID vaccine. He did not respond when I pressed if there would be further federal required vaccines. pic.twitter.com/PAnOv7aXPK
— Kelly O’Donnell (@KellyO) July 26, 2021
The exchange was somewhat reminiscent of Biden’s brush back of CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins last month in Geneva, Switzerland, after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Why are you so confident [Putin] will change his behavior, Mr. President?” Collins asked Biden as he was leaving a brief news conference.
Biden, clearly angry, turned toward Collins and said, “I am not confident he will 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 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. I’m not confident of anything. I’m just stating the facts.”
Collins continued: “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 cyber attacks. He downplayed human rights abuses. He even refused to say Alexei Navalny’s name. So how does that account to a constructive meeting, as President Putin put it?”
Biden did not respond directly, but chose an ad hominem attack instead, saying, “If you don’t understand that, you are in the wrong business.”
Later that day before boarding Air Force One (and probably after getting some feedback, we’ll call it, from his White House staff), Biden apologized for snapping at Collins.
“I owe my last questioner an apology. I shouldn’t have, I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave,” he told reporters.
President Biden apologizes to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins before departing Geneva for his response to her question at the end of his news conference. pic.twitter.com/Z8S8DoXXdp
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) June 16, 2021
“Look, to be a good reporter, you’ve got to be negative. You’ve got to have a negative view of life, OK, it seems to me. The way you all — you never ask a positive question,” Biden added.
So Biden’s upset about getting negative questions?
He wouldn’t have survived a week under the media barrage former President Donald Trump received while in office.
A study released by the Media Research Center found there was 150 times more negative coverage on broadcast news programs regarding Trump than Biden over a two-month period last summer.
In fact, 95 percent of the statements made about Trump were negative.
In contrast, Biden was barely covered at all, but when he was, two-thirds of the statements made — 67 percent — were positive.
So the president has to answer some harder questions from time to time. Welcome to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
O’Donnell and Collins were right to ask the questions they did.
If Biden doesn’t accept that, he’s in the wrong business.