“I think, with your permission, you could not answer questions because they won’t ask any questions on point,” Biden told Modi, referring to the American press.
The president also slammed White House reporters for their conduct in the Oval Office.
“The Indian press is much better behaved than the American press,” Biden said. “I gotta watch out; they’ll knock one of those down.” The White House did not include Biden’s comments in the official transcript of his remarks.
Biden’s remark is the latest example in his war with the White House press corps as he keeps avoiding questions in the White House.
On Tuesday evening, Biden provoked the press after he insulted American reporters during a meeting with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson — even after Johnson called on two reporters from the United Kingdom.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki blamed Johnson for the conflict, noting that the prime minister did not inform staff that he would take questions.
Biden remembered that soon after he was first selected to the U.S. Senate, he got a message from a man in Mumbai who said his last name was also Biden. The president said he never had the chance to follow up.
Later, as vice president, Biden was in India and reminisced about being asked by the local press if he had any family in India. He retold the story of the letter. The next day, Biden said, he was told by the Indian press that there were at least a few Bidens in India.
“And although we never admitted it ... I’ve found out that there was a Capt. George Biden who was a captain in the East India Tea Company in India,” Biden said. He seemed to be referring to the British East India Company, a commercial power for centuries that controlled trade in established India and parts of southeast Asia.
Biden, who often talks of his Irish ancestry, quipped that the British connection was "hard for an Irishman to admit.”