WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden was caught on a hot microphone cursing a Fox News reporter at a White House event on Monday after the journalist shouted a question about the impact of rising inflation on this year’s congressional elections.

As journalists were ushered out of a meeting of the Competition Council, Peter Doocy, a White House correspondent with whom Biden regularly spars, asked if it was OK to ask about inflation and if it was a political liability.

“That’s a great asset, more inflation,” Biden responded sarcastically over a din of reporters shouting questions, apparently not realising his microphone was still on. “What a stupid son of a bitch,” he added.

US consumer prices increased solidly last month, culminating in the largest annual rise in inflation in nearly four decades.

Within about an hour of the exchange, President Biden called Doocy’s cell phone and said “it’s nothing personal, pal,” Doocy later told Fox News host Sean Hannity.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment while Fox News pointed to a transcript of an interview with Doocy about the exchange on Monday evening.

Biden took office a year ago pledging to take a hard line on any disrespect among members of his administration.

“If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot ... no ifs, ands or buts,” Biden told political appointees during a virtual swearing-in ceremony. “Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity,” he said at the time.

Biden’s predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, famously attacked reporters at rallies and news conferences, to the delight of many of his supporters.

Doocy, who has long covered Biden, regularly gets called on by the president at events, often asking sceptical and critical questions. Conservative-leaning Fox News has been critical of Biden’s presidency and Democrats.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022

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