The highly-anticipated summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin has now started, but the media spray at the top of the meeting got off to an unusual start amid a chaotic scrum of reporters from both countries.
Reporters were seen blocking cameras while other people were talking to each other as the two presidents were trying to give their opening remarks to each other. As a result, the situation got incredibly tense between the two traveling press corps from the US and Russia, according to CNN Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins.
Collins explained the “pool” is a media practice where one representative for every medium is permitted to go into the room for a spray at the top of a meeting. That, she said, is usually one person representing television, one person with a camera, a print reporter, one radio reporter and so forth — usually about 15 reporters in addition to photographers.
Collins reported she was told of some combative exchanges and that the full American press corps did not actually make it into the room for that top spray, which is thought to be the only access media would get from within Villa La Grange for the next few hours.
“We’re told it started before they’d even actually made it into the building. There was pushing and shoving and yelling happening outside as all of these reporters were trying to get inside to go in and see these two leaders sitting down with one another, even though of course not all of [the reporters] are sanctioned to be there,” Collins said.
The White House indicated that the scene inside the room was so chaotic that President Biden’s communication was misunderstood by the press.
When a member of the US press pool asked the President whether he trusted Putin, they wrote that Biden “looked me in the eye and nodded affirmatively.”
But White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield pushed back on the claim, saying the President “was very clearly not responding to any one question,” but simply nodding to acknowledge the press generally.
Watch Kaitlan Collins react to President Biden and President Putin’s photo op:
CNN’s Maegan Vasquez and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed reporting to this post.