By Chris Enloe
President Joe Biden lashed out at a female reporter Monday over a basic question about whether the Department of Veterans Affairs will require its staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
While meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the Oval Office, Biden demanded that reporters ask questions only related to the withdrawal of American troops from combat in Iraq, which Biden announced Monday.
However, NBC News reporter Kelly O'Donnell skirted that demand — and Biden chided her in front of everyone.
"Mr. President, Veterans Affairs is going to have a mandate for its health care—" O'Donnell asked before Biden interrupted her.
"You are such a pain in the neck, but I'm going to answer your question because we've known each other so long. It has nothing to do with Iraq," Biden interrupted, rebuking the question. "Yes, Veteran Affairs is going to, in fact, require that all doctors working in their facilities are gonna have to be vaccinated."
O'Donnell was recently elected president of the White House Correspondents' Association, so she is well-respected among her peers.
What was the reaction?
Journalists quickly noted that Biden's biting response to O'Donnell is not the first time he has publicly chided a prominent female reporter.
Glenn Greenwald, for example, highlighted an incident last month in which Biden rebuked CNN's Kaitlan Collins, who questioned Biden about Russian President Vladimir Putin following a meeting between the two.
"Why are you so confident he'll change his behavior, Mr. President?" Collins asked, referring to Putin.
"I'm not confident he'll change his behavior...where the hell— what do you do all the time?" Biden screamed. "When did I say I was confident?"
When Collins questioned how Biden could describe his meeting with Putin as "constructive," considering Putin refuses to acknowledge human rights abuses or cyberattacks against the U.S., Biden chided again, "If you don't understand that, you are in the wrong business."
Others noted that former President Donald Trump was literally accused of subverting democracy when he criticized media.
"[W]hy is Biden attacking our democracy?" Siraj Hashmi mocked.
"We must not allow this attack on a free press….does Joe Biden not know the sacrifices these people make every day?!?" Richard Grenell said.
Author: Chris Enloe