|Born||April 7, 1992|
Prattville, Alabama, U.S.
|Education||University of Alabama (BA)|
Kaitlan L. Collins was born in Prattville, Alabama, the second oldest of four children. Her father, Jeff Collins, is a mortgage banker. Collins has described her upbringing as "apolitical", and has stated that she does not recall her parents voting or expressing strong opinions about political candidates.
Collins graduated from Prattville High School and went on to attend the University of Alabama. She initially chose to major in chemistry, like her sister had done, before majoring in journalism. She eventually earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and journalism in May 2014. Collins was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
In 2018, the group Log Cabin Republicans unearthed some tweets from her time at Alabama in 2011. Collins used the slur fag and expressed that she did not know "if I wanna room with a lesbian." She apologized for the tweets, saying: "When I was in college, I used ignorant language in a few tweets to my friends. It was immature but it doesn’t represent the way I feel at all."
After graduating from college, Collins moved to Washington, D.C. In June 2014, she was hired by The Daily Caller as an entertainment reporter. After covering the 2016 presidential election, the Daily Caller named her their White House correspondent in January 2017, and she began covering the Trump administration.
While she was still with The Daily Caller, Collins was invited to make several appearances on CNN. At a White House correspondent event in spring 2017, she met network president Jeff Zucker and thanked him for having her on despite the ideological nature of her current employer. Collins was subsequently interviewed and hired to join the White House team at CNN in July 2017. She traveled with President Trump to at least half a dozen countries.
On Wednesday, July 25, 2018, Collins attended a photo op in the Oval Office as the day's pool reporter. As the event concluded, Collins asked Trump a series of questions about Vladimir Putin and Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen. Trump ignored her questions. Collins was subsequently barred from a Trump administration press conference in the White House Rose Garden that afternoon and was told by senior White House officials that such questions were "inappropriate for that venue." Trump's press secretary Sarah Sanders asserted that Collins had "shouted questions and refused to leave," while Trump's advisor Kellyanne Conway said that the action was about "being polite." Trump's deputy chief of staff for communications, Bill Shine, objected to the characterization of the White House's action as a "ban" but "declined to tell reporters what word he would use to characterize the White House’s decision to block her from attending the event." CNN stated that the Collins' ban was "retaliatory" and "not indicative of an open and free press." The White House Correspondents Association called the ban "wholly inappropriate, wrong-headed, and weak." Jay Wallace, president of Fox News, issued a statement in support of Collins, saying that his organization "[stood] in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press."
In January 2019, Collins was included as one of Crain's NewsPro's 12 to Watch in TV News in January 2019. She was also named one of Forbes magazine's 30 under 30: Media in 2019. That December, she was selected among Mediaite's Most Influential in News Media 2019.
In April 2020, Collins questioned the president about his claim of total authority to manage social distancing restrictions related to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. At a White House press briefing later in April, she was asked by a White House official to exchange her front-row seat in the White House press room with a different network's reporter seated in the rear. Both Collins and the other reporter refused to comply with the request. The socially distanced seating plan for the briefing room had been managed by the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) and agreed to by White House officials the previous month. Collins' refusal to comply with the order issued by the White House official prompted that official to suggest that Secret Service may be summoned, a development that ultimately did not unfold.
On January 11, 2021, Collins was promoted to chief White House correspondent for the incoming Biden administration. At 28 years old, she was the youngest chief White House correspondent in CNN's history, and one of the youngest chief correspondents for a major media network.
On June 16, 2021, at his press conference following his Geneva summit with Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden challenged a question from Collins about his confidence that Putin would change his behavior when he continues to deny cyber attacks and persecution of political opposition. President Biden said this was a mischaracterization of his comments and that he actually said Russia's behavior would change if the rest of the world reacts to them and diminishes their standing in the world. Shortly after the exchange, before boarding Air Force One, President Biden publicly apologized by walking over to a group of reporters on the tarmac and said that he owed "an apology" to Collins.
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