It’s cute how many conservatives are mad about this.
No, Biden’s hot mic moment was not an attack on the press
Monday was a good day for American democracy, because it was the day President Biden called a reporter a “stupid son of a bitch.” Hot mic or not — the remark came at the tail end of a photo op for the president, when reporters were shouting last-minute questions — it was the rare opportunity for the American public to hear what a politician actually thinks. (The question, for the record, was from Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy, who asked Biden whether the high inflation in the U.S. right now would be a “liability” in the midterm elections later this year. Biden sarcastically muttered that inflation was actually a “great asset” before dubbing Doocy an SOB.)
Look, I’m not about to tweet the Biden-aviators gif at Doocy and tell him to #dealwithit. And I’m certainly not advocating attacks on the press after all we lived through during the previous administration. But I think it’s objectively a good thing if, after a year of stagnation and glibness, Biden and his team get a little more impatient and a little less polite. Sometimes productivity is ugly and inelegant.
Doocy went on Sean Hannity’s show Monday night (where else?) to reveal that Biden had called him “within about an hour” of the press conference to address the remark, which Doocy said he wasn’t even aware of until others in the press corps told him about it. “He cleared the air and I appreciate it,” Doocy told Hannity, adding that the president told him, “It’s nothing personal, pal.”
That Biden called Doocy to apologize was of course inevitable for a man who’s spent 40 years contorting to every twisted sense of decency politics has to offer. But some moral purists out there condemned Biden for acting beneath the dignity of his office when he got exasperated into a microphone — real stand-up leaders like GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, for example:
Blackburn also called out Biden last week for his dismissal of Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich’s question, posed under similar circumstances to Doocy’s, about the conflict looming between Russia and Ukraine as “stupid.” Blackburn said Biden’s response was “extremely sexist.” You know what Blackburn apparently didn’t think was sexist? One credibly alleged sexual abuser appointing another credibly alleged sexual abuser to a lifetime position of incredible power. She also didn’t seem to have a problem with the occupant of the Oval Office calling a fellow senator a “total tool” or calling a reporter a “slimeball.”
Among Biden’s other righteous critics was esteemed Nazi-sympathizing shit-stirrer Tucker Carlson, who called Biden a “nasty old man” and said Doocy took Biden’s comment in stride because “he’s no Jim Acosta.” Acosta, you may recall, was repeatedly targeted by Biden’s predecessor, who called the then-CNN chief White House correspondent “a rude, terrible person” and “the enemy of the people.” At the same press conference, the 45th president told NBC News’s Peter Alexander that he’s “not a big fan of yours, either”; he later told Alexander during a 2020 press briefing that he had asked a “nasty” question and that Alexander was a “terrible reporter.” Carlson had nothing to say about those incidents.
Speaking of former President Donald Trump, he also asked veteran D.C. journalist April Ryan whether the Congressional Black Caucus were all “friends of yours,” told CNN’s Abby Phillip she’d asked a “stupid question” during a scrum and in fact asks “a lot of stupid questions,” and told Yamiche Alcindor, then the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, that she should “act a little more positive” and “don’t be threatening.” All three reporters are Black women whom Trump insulted often, but none of the conservative pearl-clutchers on Monday had much to say about that at the time.
Lest you think I’m making this a race thing, I’ll get laser-focused on the phrase in question: “son of a bitch.” Here’s Trump deploying those words quite often — most famously about Black football players standing for social justice, but hey, you didn’t hear that from me! If it makes you feel better, he also called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “a dumb son of a bitch” last year, and McConnell is about as white as they come.
Doocy, by the way, was yukking it up with Fox News buddy Jesse Watters very shortly after Biden’s outburst. When The Five’s resident race correspondent told Doocy, “I think the president’s right, you are a stupid SOB,” Doocy responded, “Yeah, nobody has fact-checked him yet and said it’s not true.” Anyway, here’s a cute video courtesy of the folks at Jimmy Kimmel Live!.