U.S. President Joe Biden
Drew Angerer/Getty

27 Infamous Hot Mic Moments

View Slideshow
Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more
U.S. President Joe Biden
Drew Angerer/Getty

No Filter

The public spotlight can feel hot enough as it is, but it can get downright blistering when a live mic, still-rolling camera, or supposedly private text catches politicians, celebrities, or other notable folks in an overly candid moment. Some of the most memorable gaffes have resulted when people inadvertently spoke their minds in what they thought was a private moment. They include a recent hot-mic moment involving President Biden and his not-for-virgin-ears lingo during a conversation with a Florida mayor.


Related: Celebrities Who've Survived PR Nightmares

U.S. President Joe Biden
Drew Angerer/Getty

Joe Biden

When looking at pictures and videos of the damage Hurricane Ian inflicted upon Florida's southwest coast, it's hard not to react with a bit of profanity. And as it turns out, President Biden's had his own sailor's mouth moment during his tour to assess the destruction, though his uncensored response came during a casual exchange with a local government official and not as a reaction to the devastation. When President Biden shook Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy's hand as he visited the area, he was heard saying, “No one f---s with a Biden,” to which Murphy responded, "“Yeah, you’re godd--- right," as he laughed.


Related: The Oldest World Leaders Currently in Power

South Korea's presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol
Pool / Getty

Yoon Suk Yeol

Yoon Suk Yeol, president of South Korea, is the latest world leader to bring some heat to the microphone. After meeting President Joe Biden at the Global Fund conference in New York this week, a video surfaced of Yoon sharing his not-for-virgin-ears thoughts with his aides. “It would be so embarrassing for Biden if those f---ers at the National Assembly don’t approve this [bill],” he seems to have said. Yoon is no stranger to media controversy when it comes to U.S. officials, either — he was also in the news recently after refusing a meeting with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her visit to South Korea.


For more fun trivia stories, sign up for our free newsletters

Howard Stern
Getty Images / Jeff Kravitz / Contributor

Howard Stern

Howard Stern thought he wasn't be recorded for his Sirius program, but he let it slip he was filming a cameo for a Marvel movie, "Doctor Doom" — which had yet to be announced. Worse, he admitted he wasn't excited about the job, then called himself an expletive. Superhero fans who prefer to be surprised likely agreed.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods by Keith Allison (CC BY-SA)

Tiger Woods

The five-time Masters champion might be forgiven for dropping an F-bomb at the 2022 Masters event in August, Georgia. His approach shot spun off the false front of the ninth green. Luckily, he was able to recover with an even-par 36. It was his first golf tournament after a serious car accident 14 months earlier. 

President Biden Discusses Efforts To Lower Prices For Families
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden (Again)

The pandemic hasn't been the only thing dogging President Joe Biden's time in office. Americans have also been dealing with rampant inflation — not exactly a political windfall for the current administration. So when Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Biden during a news conference whether inflation would be a liability in the midterm elections, Biden let his plain-spoken reputation get the better of him. "That's a great asset, more inflation," he deadpanned, the mic picking up every word. "What a stupid son of a b----." It came just a week after Biden was overheard taking a swipe at another Fox reporter for a "stupid question" about the Ukraine conflict. Biden later called Doocy to apologize.

Top Health Officials Testify Before Senate Hearing
Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci

It's been a long struggle with COVID-19, and no one feels that in their bones more than Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has had the unenviable job of trying to keep the nation safe and informed. His frustration got the better of him during a Senate hearing, when Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas accused him of being less-than-transparent about his financial disclosures. (Fauci's salary and other financials have long been public knowledge.) "What a moron," Fauci's mic caught him muttering after Marshall said his office couldn't find that information. "Jesus Christ!"

Close-up McDonalds outdoor sign against blue sky
ermingut/istockphoto

Chris Kempczinski

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski didn't get in trouble for what he said, but rather for what he texted to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2021. He was responding to the fatal shootings of two Chicago kids earlier that year, one of whom, Jaslyn Adams, was killed while in a car in a McDonald's drive-thru. He texted Lightfoot, "Both the parents failed those kids, which is something you can’t say. Even harder to fix." The other child, Adam Toledo, was killed in a police shooting. The text, later leaked to media, caused an uproar, reported Restaurant Business, and Kempczinski later issued an apology.

Mike Shirkey
Mike Shirkey by mihousegop (CC BY)

Mike Shirkey

Michigan’s Senate majority leader isn’t the biggest name on this list, but his unfiltered moment is one of the most notable in recent months. In February 2021, he was caught saying that he didn’t take back his assertions that the Capitol riot was “a hoax,” remarks for which he had previously apologized. But that wasn’t all: A week earlier, he’d also said he’d wanted to fight Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on the Statehouse lawn and had “spanked her hard” over the state budget.

Thom Brennaman
Thom Brennaman by Brian Baute (CC BY)

Thom Brennaman

In August 2020, longtime baseball announcer Thom Brennaman uttered a homophobic slur while calling a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals, apparently thinking he was off the air at the time. He was pulled off the air for the second game of the doubleheader and suspended by the Reds, and despite an apology, ultimately resigned about a month later. 

Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews by David Shankbone (CC BY)

Chris Matthews

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has never been shy about his opinions, and was caught ogling Melania Trump during live coverage of the Indiana primary in 2016. “Did you see her walk? Runway walk. My God is that good,” he said, forcing co-anchor Brian Williams to cut to a commercial break. A spokesperson for Melania Trump blasted Matthews in a statement to Variety, saying, “continuous inaccuracies and misrepresentations made by the media of Mrs. Trump as anything less than the independently successful woman that she is."

Donald Trump
Win McNamee / Getty Images

Donald Trump

Unsavory as it was, Matthews’ hot-mic moment was far from the most prominent of the 2016 campaign. That honor, of course, goes to former President Donald Trump himself, who was revealed to have made lewd, profane comments about women during a 2005 conversation with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. Trump later dismissed the comments as “locker room banter,” but they became a major issue during the remainder of the campaign.

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber by Lou Stejskal (CC BY)

Justin Bieber

Appearing on the “Today Show” is hard, frustrating work. Or so it was for Justin Bieber, who in 2015 was caught on a hot mic complaining about a tight camera angle during a performance in Rockefeller Plaza. “The camera’s there the whole time, I might as well not even dance,” he said as the show went to commercial. “What do I even do this for?” he continued before the sound cut out.

Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama
Julien M. Hekimian/Getty

Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at important world meetings. Then-U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had a private chat at the Group of 20 summit in November 2011 that was caught on open mics, according to media reports. “I can’t stand him. He’s a liar,” Sarkozy reportedly said of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “You’re tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day,” Obama replied. 

Joe Biden
Drew Angerer/Getty

Joe Biden (Yet Again)

During his first term as vice president, Biden was caught on a hot mic whispering to President Barack Obama that his health-care reform legislation was “a big f---ing deal” during a signing ceremony in March 2010. Biden, already known for occasional gaffes resulting from his candid nature, said he was embarrassed by the remarks, but nonetheless capitalized on them to sell T-shirts as part of a fundraiser for Democratic Party. 

Carly Fiorina
Larry French/Getty

Carly Fiorina

In politics, it seems like everything is fair game for comment, for better or worse. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina was caught mocking California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s hairstyle during a 2010 appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” snarking, “God, what is that? ... Sooo yesterday,” before realizing her mic was still on. Rather than apologizing directly to Boxer, Fiorina followed up with this: “I regret this whole situation. I gave people the opportunity to talk about something petty and superficial.”

California State Assembly
California State Assembly

Mike Duvall

As a member of the California Assembly, Mike Duvall vaulted onto the national stage in July 2009, when he used a break during a committee meeting to regale a fellow lawmaker with a play-by-play of his extramarital affairs with two women, saying of one, “I’m getting into spanking her” and describing her underwear. He resigned a couple of months later, after the comments went viral thanks to a YouTube video.  

Obama
Jessica McGowan/Getty

Barack Obama

President Obama’s appraisal of Kanye West seems like unlikely headline fodder, but became just that in 2009, when supposedly off-the-record remarks during an interview with CNBC made their way onto YouTube. “He’s a jackass,” Obama said of the star’s behavior at the 2009 Video Music Awards, when West interrupted Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech to proclaim that Beyonce had been robbed. To Obama’s credit, he later doubled down, this time with full knowledge that he was on the record.

Christian Bale
Christian Bale by Harald Krichel (CC BY-SA)

Christian Bale

We’ve all heard tales of diva behavior on set, but it’s rare to get it on tape, in all of its glory. Christian Bale was caught on camera having an epic meltdown on the set of “Terminator Salvation,” which came out in 2009, berating the film’s cinematographer for accidentally walking onto the set. “I want you off the f---ing set, you p----," he screamed. “You are trashing my scene.” Bale did go on to apologize, saying he was still in character but “took it way too far.”

Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson by AFGE (CC BY)

Jesse Jackson

While Barack Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, the Rev. Jesse Jackson had some choice words for the young senator, indeed: “Barack’s been talking down to Black people … I want to cut his nuts off,” he said in remarks to a fellow Fox News guest captured on a hot mic during a break. Jackson immediately apologized, but that didn’t save him from being the subject of a blistering statement written by his own son, Jesse Jackson Jr., who was co-chair of the Obama campaign: “I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric,” it read. “He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself.”

Kyra Phillips
Public Domain

Kyra Phillips

News anchors are no stranger to the occasional hot-mic moment, but CNN’s Kyra Phillips was caught having an entire 90-second conversation

https://bbs.clutchfans.net/threads/cnn-punked-kyra-your-mic-is-on.117206/

 during a 2006 speech by President George W. Bush marking the first anniversary of deadly Hurricane Katrina. Phillips, who was taking a break while her mic was still on, was heard praising her husband as “a really passionate, compassionate, great, great human being” before she talks about being protective of her brother, whose wife is “just a control freak” — all while the president continued to speak. CNN apologized to both Bush and viewers, citing “audio difficulties.”

Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac by European Communities (CC BY)

Jacques Chirac

France and Britain have long had something of a low-key rivalry, but on the world stage, they’re allies. Still, that didn’t stop French President Jacques Chirac from revealing his true feelings to Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder during a 2005 meeting. “The only thing (the English) have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow,” journalists overheard him saying. “You can’t trust people who cook as badly as that … After Finland, it’s the country with the worst food.” 

Prince Charles
Prince Charles by Palácio do Planalto (CC BY)

King Charles III

Ever wanted to live the life of a royal? King Charles III, for one, painted a pretty unappealing picture when he was posing for photographs with sons William and Harry during a ski trip in Switzerland ahead of his 2005 wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles when he was still a prince. “I hate doing this,” he was recorded muttering. “Bloody people.” He went on to call a BBC correspondent “so awful,” and was later beseeched by Prince William to “keep smiling, keep smiling.”

george bush
Wikimedia Commons

George W. Bush

There’s generally very little love lost between politicians and members of the media, and George W. Bush made that abundantly clear when he was caught on video calling a New York Times reporter, Adam Clymer, “a major-league a--hole” in an aside to his running mate, Dick Cheney, during a 2000 campaign appearance. Bush passed on the chance to apologize, but did make it up to Clymer by later calling him a “major-league asset” at an annual press corps dinner.  

Kathleen Gingrich
C-Span

Kathleen Gingrich

Newt Gingrich’s mother, Kathleen, learned the hard way that when a news anchor beseeches you to say something “just between you and me,” it may mean nothing of the sort. Cameras were still rolling when Gingrich whispered to Connie Chung during a 1995 interview that her son had called Hillary Clinton “a b----.” Chung was widely criticized for the interview, which was parodied on “Saturday Night Live,” and left CBS several months later. 

Nancy Kerrigan
Nancy Kerrigan by gianluca (CC BY-SA)

Nancy Kerrigan

After the unforgettable Tonya Harding scandal, figure skater Kerrigan became America’s sweetheart, especially after her silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics. But she wasn’t quite so sweet around hot mics. First, she complained about Oksana Baiul, who won the gold, for taking too long for a makeup touchup before the medal ceremony, saying, “Oh, come on. She's going to get up there and cry again. What's the difference?" After that, she made her disdain for a post-Olympics appearance at Disney World abundantly clear, snarking that a parade appearance with Mickey Mouse was “so corny … so dumb.

Bill O’Reilly
Bill O’Reilly by World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (CC BY)

Bill O’Reilly

Hell hath no fury like an angry Bill O’Reilly, who was caught on camera erupting at his staff during an early ’90s episode of “Inside Edition.” The cause of the meltdown? Teleprompter issues. “F--- it! We’ll do it live!” he screamed between takes. “F---ing thing sucks!” A camera also caught O’Reilly throwing a pen, ripping off his jacket, and storming off set when he was finished. 

Ronald Reagan
Public Domain

Ronald Reagan

In 1984, when President Ronald Reagan was preparing for a weekly broadcast at his California ranch, radio staffers asked him for a mic check. Reagan gave them that and much, much more, saying, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” The joke was leaked to the press, prompting plenty of anger from the Soviets, who declared it “an unprecedented and hostile attack.”