By Maegan Vazquez, CNN
President Joe Biden was heard calling a reporter from the Fox channel a “stupid son of a bitch” on a hot microphone following a White House event Monday afternoon.
The President’s profane remark came as reporters were shouting questions while exiting the East Room following a White House Competition Council meeting on efforts to lower prices.
Fox White House Correspondent Peter Doocy asked Biden, “Would you take a question on inflation … ? Do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?”
“It’s a great asset — more inflation,” Biden deadpanned. “What a stupid son of a bitch.”
Doocy said on Fox late Monday evening that Biden called his phone shortly after their exchange to apologize for his remark. “Within about an hour of that exchange, he called my cell phone and he said, ‘It’s nothing personal, pal,'” Doocy said.
“He cleared the air, and I appreciated it. We had a nice call,” he added. Doocy said he told Biden he plans to continue asking him unexpected questions, and that the President responded positively to the comment.
Doocy had said on Fox earlier Monday that he had asked Biden about inflation because the President, when asked about Russia and Ukraine, said he wouldn’t take any questions that were off-topic.
Doocy also said other reporters “had to tell me that he said it because I couldn’t hear anything over the shouting from (White House staff telling press to leave the room).”
The President has grown increasingly frustrated when facing tough questions publicly in recent days.
When another Fox White House correspondent, Jacqui Heinrich, asked Biden why he was waiting for Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the first move with Ukraine, he responded under his breath, “What a stupid question.”
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a press briefing that “the President has shown that he respects the value of the freedom of the press.”
Psaki, who was being asked about 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s court case against The New York Times, said the President “obviously took a step earlier this year to ensure there couldn’t be a replication of actions that had been taken over prior administrations as it related to journalists. So I think that speaks to his commitment, but I don’t have any more comments on the case.”
Psaki appeared to be referring to the Biden Justice Department’s policy shift, vowing to no longer seize reporters’ records in leak investigations.
At the root of the frustrations toward the reporters are two major crises the Biden administration continues to deal with: addressing inflation and the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Just ahead of the President’s Monday meeting on lowering prices, Biden held a video conference with European leaders to discuss concerns over Russia’s troop build-up at Ukraine’s border.
Biden discussed options for bolstering US troop levels in the Baltics and Eastern Europe with his top military officials during a briefing at Camp David Saturday, according to a senior official. And earlier Monday, the Pentagon announced that as many as 8,500 US troops have been put on heightened alert for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe.
The State Department reduced staff levels at the US Embassy in Ukraine, ordering some family members to leave. And on Monday, the White House said American citizens inside Ukraine should leave now, and that there are no plans for a military evacuation should the situation deteriorate further.
Inflation continues to hound the administration as well — consumer prices rose in 2021 at the fastest pace in 39 years, a concerning marker the White House has attempted to address in the limited ways it can, including through events like the one held on Monday to lower prices.
During a news conference marking one year since taking office, Biden said, “We need to get inflation under control,” throwing weight behind the Federal Reserve’s efforts to combat inflation.
The administration’s inflation problem has already had political consequences.
In December, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a key moderate in the Senate, declined to support Biden’s sweeping social safety net and climate legislation, in part, over what the bill would do to the nation’s rising debt and soaring inflation.
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.
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CNN’s Aaron Pellish, Kaitlan Collins and DJ Judd contributed to this report.