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WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden was caught on a hot mic 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 Biden’s 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 realizing his microphone was still on. “What a stupid son of a bitch,” he added.

US consumer prices increased solidly in December, culminating in the largest annual rise in inflation in nearly four decades. Within about an hour of the exchange, Biden called Doocy’s cell phone and said “it’s nothing personal, pal,” Doocy later told Fox News host Sean Hannity.

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The White House did not respond to a request for comment while Fox News pointed Reuters 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.

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