Over the past week, the American public got two starkly different versions of President Joe Biden. One was in the expertly produced video narrated by Tom Hanks, in which the first year of the Biden administration comes off as a rousing success, and Biden, earnest and compassionate and scripted, says, “There’s nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together.”

Then there was the unscripted moment Monday when Biden, thinking his microphone was off, coldly called a Fox News reporter an expletive.

It was a shocking “hot mic” moment even for a president who has had hot-mic moments before. Just last week, Biden apparently said “What a stupid question” after another Fox reporter posed a question about Russia and Ukraine.

The latest gaffe came after Peter Doocy, Fox’s White House correspondent, asked Biden if inflation is a political liability with midterms looming.

Biden, seeming to be talking under his breath, said, “That’s a great asset. More inflation. What a stupid son of a (expletive).”

Doocy later said he didn’t hear the remark and was told about it moments later. He seemed amused, much like many people on Twitter who don’t like Doocy or Fox and who jumped in to applaud Biden for what he said.

But you don’t have to be a Fox fan to recoil at the president’s language and demeanor, particularly since Biden won the presidency in part by promising to be a uniter and healer.

A clip like this will circulate much longer than the glossy “Year One” video, produced by the Biden Inaugural Committee, which reportedly spent millions of dollars to air it on broadcast and cable TV.

The video makes Hanks look presidential.

The hot mic makes Biden seem not only unpresidential, but mean.

Defenders quickly pointed out that Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, also mocked reporters and was caught saying far more offensive things than what Biden said about Doocy. But Biden got into office in part by promising to be the opposite of Trump in exactly that way. His avuncular and seemingly kind demeanor was welcomed by many Americans even if they didn’t agree with all of his policies. Now they’re left to wonder which is the real Biden: the man in the video or on the hot mic.

A year ago, Biden memorably said his “whole soul” was in healing the divisions in America: “We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature,” he said. He pledged to be a president for all Americans.

It’s been a difficult year for the president, and no one knows that better than the people who track his ratings. Moreover, his relationship with Doocy has been famously fraught, so much so that Christopher Cadelago of Politico asked if Doocy is “just asking questions — or trolling the White House.”

Meet the Doocys, the first family of Fox News
Peter Doocy and his father, Steve Doocy, are pictured on the north lawn of the White House in Washington on June 15, 2018. | Doocy family photo

Doocy and his family are not above making fun of Biden, either.

At Doocy’s wedding, his father, longtime Fox personality Steve Doocy, read a poem he wrote that ended with a dig at Biden, making fun of another of the president’s gaffes — when he complained that Peter Doocy is a “one-horse pony.”

Still, for all Peter Doocy’s fame, he’s not the president who pledged to be a uniter and to lower the temperature. On Monday, he was at the back of the room, not the front. Which is another reason that the hot mic worries people, like conservative talk-show host Jesse Kelly, who said: