I’m not sure what inspired this question from Kaitlan Collins. As far as I’ve seen, the closest Biden got to saying he was confident that Putin will change was when he claimed the tone of the meeting was “good and positive” during his prepared remarks.
Still, he was more irritated at her than he should have been. Maybe he just hates CNN, like all right-thinking people.
Or maybe he’s cranky because he hasn’t eaten. 2 p.m. is dinnertime for people his age on the east coast.
CNN’s @kaitlancollins: “Why are you so confident [Putin] will change his behavior, Mr. President?”
Biden: “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? What I said was …” pic.twitter.com/zVYQ86sYdJ
— The Recount (@therecount) June 16, 2021
I think these were the comments that got Collins’s attention:
What is going to happen next is we’re going to be able to look back, look ahead in three to six months and say, did the things we agree to sit down and work out, did it work? Are we closer to a major strategic stability talks and progress? … That’s going to be the test. I am not sitting here saying because the President and I agreed we would do these things that all of a sudden it’s going to work. I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that I think there’s a genuine prospect to significantly improve the relations between the two countries, without giving up anything on principles and values.”
There’s no reason to think Putin will do anything differently over the next six months but there’s also no reason to think a U.S. president would say, “You’re right, this summit was pointless.” Even though it was pointless. Why any president would deign to reward Putin with the honor of a summit at this point in American history escapes me.
If Alexi Navalny dies in jail, a prospect which Putin seems perfectly content with, we’ll have our answer about the chances of relations improving. And we’ll also see what Biden’s made of, as he vowed today that the fallout will be “devastating.”
This target list by omission doesn’t inspire confidence:
President Biden says he gave Putin a list of 16 critical infrastructure elements that should be off-limits when it comes to cyberattack. They also tasked experts with figuring out a joint understanding of what is "off limits" for these cyber attacks, Biden says.
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) June 16, 2021
“Look, Jack, here’s the deal: Stay away from these 16 categories but otherwise go nuts.”
The media reaction to Biden’s exchange with Collins is cool but polite this afternoon. It’s not hard to imagine what it would have sounded like if her exchange had been with Trump:
I stand with @kaitlancollins, a dedicated and great journalist. Misogynist attacks on female reporters not only undermine them personally, but journalistic institutions tasked with guarding our press freedoms. This is unacceptable. #StandWithKaitlan https://t.co/VFC6yB4Ofa
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) June 16, 2021
One difference between Trump and Biden, though, is that Biden apologized for his tone with Collins afterward, saying he shouldn’t have been such a “wise guy.” Here he is on the tarmac before departing Geneva, sounding another Trumpy note by complaining that reporters are always so negative in their questions. Imagine if this guy were a Republican.
"Look, to be a good reporter, you've gotta be negative. You've gotta have a negative view of life, it seems to me … I apologize for having been short" — Biden on Kaitlan Collins's question and his response to it pic.twitter.com/2mHvKkPz7X
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 16, 2021