Joe Biden slammed after calling NBC's Lester Holt 'wise guy' for prodding him on inflation
President Joe Biden sparked a backlash after calling NBC News anchor Lester Holt a "wise guy" during a TV interview on Thursday, February 10, after he was asked for his definition of "temporary" as inflation hit a 40-year-high.
The White House has maintained that the skyrocketing prices are "transitory" and will come down as pandemic supply chain pressures dissipate. However, the Labor Department revealed on Thursday that year-on-year inflation hit 7.5 percent in January, the highest it has reached since 1982. In December, Biden had stated that the previous month's 6.8 percent annual inflation rate was likely the "peak." Then, in July, he described the phenomenon as "temporary" when it was around 5 percent.
"I think it was back in July, you said inflation was going to be temporary," Holt noted to Biden. "I think a lot of Americans are wondering what your definition of temporary is." Biden responded by saying, "Well, you're being a wise guy with me a little bit. I understand, that's your job." Inflation rates have caused Biden's approval ratings to drop to historic lows and previous efforts by his administration to dismiss the rising prices as temporary have led to accusations that he's out of touch.
.@LesterHoltNBC: "...back in July you said inflation was going to be temporary. I think a lot of Americans are wondering what your definition of temporary is."— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) February 11, 2022
President Biden: "You're being a wise guy with me a little bit." pic.twitter.com/acWhRDhLPn
Biden tried to explain what was happening as he sat down with holt for the interview, scheduled to be broadcast in full before Sunday's Super Bowl. "The reason for inflation is the supply chains were cut off, meaning that the products - for example, automobiles, the lack of computer chips to be able to build those automobiles so they could function ... they need those computer chips that were not available," he said. "So what happens with the number of cars were reduced the new cars reduced it but made up at one third the cost of inflation because the price of automobiles is up." The POTUS added that he had worked with Intel to ensure that more chips were made in the US.
Holt subsequently asked Biden when Americans could expect some relief. "According to Nobel laureates - 14 of them that contacted me - and a number of corporate leaders it ought to be able to start to taper off as we go through this year," he responded. The interview was taped in Culpeper, Virginia shortly after he gave a speech urging Congress to pass his stalled $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act in order to alleviate inflation. This is after leaders across the aisle have agreed that government spending fueled the ongoing crisis.
The 46th POTUS was excoriated on social media for calling the veteran news anchor a "wise guy" simply because he asked a legitimate question.
"Biden rarely does interviews/takes questions, but when he does you are either a “stupid son of a bitch” or a “wise guy” if you ask about inflation," Fox News editor Cameron Cawthorne tweeted.
"Biden was wrong for months about inflation and he has the audacity to call someone else a "wise guy" for asking him about it," GOP Rapid Response Director Tommy Pigott added.
"Joe Biden calls Lester Holt 'a wise guy' in TV interview. But the "wise guy" spoke truth about inflation, and Biden deflected it," journalist John Fund wrote.
"Joe Biden calling Lester Holt a 'wise guy' is a better compliment than Joe saying 'he's the smartest guy I know,'" one Twitter user quipped, referencing the President's son Hunter Biden.
Biden was wrong for months about inflation and he has the audacity to call someone else a "wise guy" for asking him about it. https://t.co/sgaqNZU8iG— Tommy Pigott (@TommyPigott) February 11, 2022
It's worth noting that Biden has lashed out at other reporters for asking about inflation as his approval ratings plummet with the devaluing US dollar. “It’s a great asset — more inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch,” the President sneered last month when Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked him about the issue.