The major news of the week out of Geneva was the episode between President Biden and CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins. You would be excused if you wondered if this had been a contrived event, a piece of loud but low-altitude drama meant to distract from the rash of embarrassments from Biden over the past week. It created just the type of furor the press loves; it became a story about themselves, and on an international stage.
Following his presser, Biden was exiting near a clutch of reporters, and Collins, in that mix, managed to shout out a question that caught Biden’s ear. He came back to their location and in an intemperate manner he dressed down Collins, accusing her of misquoting him and then closing with, “If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business.”
Biden was compelled to issue an apology of sorts. He did not apologize directly to Collins but addressed a clutch of reporters at the base of the stairway to Air Force One. “I owe my last questioner an apology.I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave.” he said, but then qualified his remark. “To be a good reporter you have got to be negative, you have got to have a negative view on life, OK, it seems to me. You never ask a positive question.”
What has been so revealing about this exchange is the reaction across the journalism landscape. While many took Collins’ side there were many who, in reflexive defense of the President, accused her of asking a loaded question with many saying she put words in his mouth. This was their way of declaring that Biden was in line with defending his own record. The notable departure here is, of course, how different this reaction is to the past four years.
Imagine the outrage and the weeks of coverage we would have been treated to had President Trump ever approached a female reporter with his finger out, angrily cutting her down. The attack on the press and the sexism on display
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