Biden snaps at reporter for not playing ‘by the rules’ when reporter surprises him with off-topic question

News & Politics

President Joe Biden rebuked a reporter on Thursday for not playing “by the rules.”

Earlier in the day, Biden announced a 10-year bilateral security agreement with Ukraine to help the country “defend itself now and to deter future aggression.” The agreement also reaffirmed the Biden administration’s stance that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO,” a position that experts believe is a red line for Moscow. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday the war could end if Ukraine renounces plans to join NATO.

‘I’m here to talk about a critical situation in Ukraine. You’re asking another subject.’

At a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the new U.S.-Ukrainian agreement, Biden got upset when a reporter asked an off-topic question.

After both presidents spoke, Biden called on Bloomberg reporter Josh Wingrove to ask a question. It appeared that staffers had preselected which reporters would be allowed to ask a question.

But instead of asking Biden about the U.S.-Ukrainian agreement, Wingrove queried Biden about the Israel-Hamas war.

“I wish you guys would play by the rules a little bit,” Biden snapped.

“I’m here to talk about a critical situation in Ukraine. You’re asking another subject. I’ll be happy to answer in detail later, but the bottom line is that we made an agreement,” Biden chided.

Wingrove was actually the second — and final — American reporter on whom Biden called. The first, Colleen Long from the Associated Press, didn’t earn a scolding despite asking Biden about his son, Hunter.

Still, Biden’s assertion that Wingrove did not adhere to the “rules” raised eyebrows and questions about the media’s independence.

The incident forced NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, to release a statement clarifying what happened.

“The White House Correspondents’ Association believes it is in the public interest to make clear that at a presidential press conference, at home or abroad, there are no preconditions regarding question topics,” O’Donnell said.

“While the White House does determine the number of reporters the president will recognize, it is up to professional journalists to decide what to ask,” she added. “Any leader may prefer that reporters ask only one question or ask only about a topic that is of most interest to the president or another world leader, but a free press functions independently.”

Biden has given few press conferences as president, and when he does speak with the press, the White House normally preselects the reporters who get to ask a question.

Last April, a photographer snapped a picture of one of Biden’s media “cheat sheets” that appeared to show he had advance knowledge of a reporter’s question.

The White House and the media outlet in question later denied that Biden had advance knowledge of the question.

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