In a brief appearance with reporters Monday, President Joe Biden called NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell a "pain in the neck" for asking him a question about the Veterans Affairs Department's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
"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," Biden told O'Donnell at a White House Oval Office meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. "It has nothing to do with Iraq.
"I'll answer your question: Yes, Veterans Affairs is going to in fact require that all docs working in facilities are going to have to be vaccinated."
Biden took just a few questions in the media availability segment of the meeting, where the president and Iraq were working on the details of an agreement formally ending the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after U.S. troops were sent to the country.
It was largely a friendly exchange with O'Donnell, potentially because it did not come from a reporter at a conservative news organization, and O'Donnell, as Biden said, is a longtime acquaintance.
O'Donnell told Fox News she took Biden's quip as a compliment.
Biden has had limited interactions with reporters during his administration thus far, and they have been at times contentious, often with women reporters. Biden snapped at CNN's Kaitlan Collins last month, telling her "wrong business," according to Fox News.
An unnamed White House reporter told journalist Julia Loffe earlier this month that Democrats expect mainstream media to side with the White House and Democrats, while Biden and officials are more "thin-skinned" than Republicans, Fox News reported.
Reporters tried to ask a number of questions, but White House press aides were trying to disperse the press corps from the Oval Office immediately after brief comments on the Iraq meeting by the president and the Iraqi prime minister.
"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," the reporter said, according to the report. "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."
VA Secretary Denis McDonough made the mandate official Monday that VA front-line healthcare workers would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to work.
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