In the Oval Office on Monday, President Biden called a reporter a “pain in the neck” for asking him a question unrelated to his preferred topic of Iraq.
Biden smiled as NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell asked him about Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough’s announcement that front-line VA workers would be required to get a coronavirus vaccine while sitting in the Oval Office with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
He said, “You are such a pain in the neck, but I’m going to answer your question because we’ve known each other for so long. It has nothing to do with Iraq … I’ll answer your question. Yes, Veteran Affairs is going to, in fact, require that all doctors working in their facilities are going to have to be vaccinated.”
As Biden chuckled, O’Donnell said she took his comments as a “compliment.” On Monday, Biden announced the end of the United States combat mission in Iraq.
Biden was friendly with O’Donnell, but he has been known to lash out at reporters over unfair or unfounded questions in the past.
Last month, he yelled at CNN’s Kaitlan Collins for asking a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling her she was in the “wrong business” at one point, and he also had sharp retorts about his son Hunter Biden throughout 2020.
Since taking office, Biden has been chastised for being too scripted and expecting questions to be on his preferred topic. He’s been looser with his words recently, such as when he had to backtrack on comments to reporters that Facebook was “killing people” because it allowed the publication of false information about coronavirus vaccines.
One anonymous White House reporter told journalist Julia Ioffe earlier this month that Democrats are more “thin-skinned” than Republicans because they expect the media to take their side.
The reporter said, “This is not unique to Trump but Republicans never expect a fair shake, so if you cover them fairly, you can have a good working relationship with them. Democrats de facto expect you to be on their side and are horrified when you hold them to account as you would any other administration.”