President Trump abruptly wraps up COVID-19 briefing after telling a reporter to ‘ask China’ why Americans are losing their lives
On Monday, during the press conference, President Donald Trump abruptly interrupted the coronavirus briefing after getting into a conflict with a Chinese-American reporter.
The reporter, whom the president confronted, was the CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang. When Jiang asked about the rising death toll caused by the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Trump told her she should ‘ask China’.
The CBS correspondent who already has a history of getting into spats with the president asked:
“You’ve said many times that the US is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing. Why does that matter? Why is this a global competition to you when every day Americans are losing their lives, and we’re still seeing more cases every day?”
To these candid questions, President Trump responded:
“They’re losing their lives everywhere in the world, and maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question. When you ask them that question, you may get a very unusual answer.”
Clearly, Trump’s ignorant response offended Jiang, who is Chinese-American. After the president pointed to the next reporter, Kaitlan Collins from CNN, she politely let Jiang ask a follow-up question. As she was still obviously shocked by Trump’s previous answer, she said:
“Why are you saying that to me – specifically – that I should ask China?”
The U.S. President tried to explain he didn’t mean to particularly point to Jiang. He answered:
“I’m not saying it specifically to anybody, I’m saying it to anybody that asks a nasty question.”
However, the reporter couldn’t accept Trump’s attitude, so she backfired, saying her question was not ‘nasty’ as he labeled it.
Weijia Jiang wasn’t the only reporter affected by Trump’s bluntness at the coronavirus briefing on Monday.
Kaitlan Collins’ turn was bypassed by the President, as he pointed to the next in line, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS. When the CNN correspondent said she still had questions, Trump interrupted her, saying:
“I did [call on you], and you didn’t respond, and now I’m calling on the young lady in the back.”
As they couldn’t reach a compromise, the President put an end to the briefing at the Rose Garden and walked out.
This was not the first time Trump has blamed China for the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, as UPWORTHY notes. He believes that some of the damages that the outbreak has caused could have been avoided if the Chinese government warned the world about the virus in time. Moreover, he claims that China has even silenced whistleblowers like Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to warn colleagues about the pandemic.
.@weijia: Why is this a global competition to you when Americans are losing their lives every day?
TRUMP: Maybe that's a question you should ask China.
WEIJA: Why are you saying that to me, specifically?
TRUMP: I'm saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that. pic.twitter.com/hokJOXASh8
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 11, 2020
The CBS Chinese-American reporter didn’t confront President Donald Trump for the first time either.
Last month, Weijia Jiang criticized the U.S. President for not warning the American residents about the coronavirus outbreak in February.
She also asked Trump why he had waited until March 16 to impose a nationwide lockdown and social distancing restrictions. Her questions were followed by a vigorous debate.
As the correspondent was trying to get a clear answer to her questions by interrupting the President, he told her to speak ‘nice and easy’, and to keep her voice down.
"Keep your voice down."
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 22, 2020
Last week, in an interview with the New York Post, President Trump singled out two CBS News journalists as people who particularly irritated him. Weijia Jiang was one of them, followed by her colleague Paula Reid. Trump told the Post:
“It wasn’t Donna Reed, I can tell you that. Paula Reid, she’s sitting there and I say, ‘How angry. I mean, what’s the purpose?’ They’re not even tough questions, but you see the attitude of these people, it’s like incredible.”
By saying “It wasn’t Donna Reed”, the President referred to the actress best known for playing Mary Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, and later starring as the mom in a TV sitcom of the ’50s and ’60s.
When Paula Reid, the reporter Trump accused of having a mean attitude, learned about the President’s words about her, she posted on her Twitter account:
“President Trump tells New York Post I am nothing like 50’s American archetypal mom Donna Reed. Fact-check: True.”
— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCBS) May 5, 2020
The latest spat Trump got into during the Monday COVID-19 briefing unsurprisingly faced severe criticism.
For instance, Olivia Nuzzi, Washington correspondent for New York magazine, accused him of being unprofessional while interacting with female reporters. Nuzzi tweeted:
“The President’s unprofessionalism is always revealed most clearly when he is interacting with female reporters who conduct themselves calmly and professionally in response.”
The President’s unprofessionalism is always revealed most clearly when he is interacting with female reporters—@kaitlancollins, @weijia, and @Yamiche specifically come to mind—who conduct themselves calmly and professionally in response.
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) May 11, 2020
As CNN reports, a spokesperson from the media declined to comment on the situation. Also, a spokesperson for CBS News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.