President Trump continuously lashed out at a female reporter during a tense confrontation during a daily coronavirus task force briefing Sunday.
“Many Americans are saying… you should have warned them the virus was spreading like wildfire through the month of February instead of holding rallies with thousands of people,” said WeiJia Jiang, CBS News’ White House correspondent, in response to Trump’s false claims about his response to the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
“Why did you wait so long to warn them?” she continued
Trump then pointed to his late January ban of flights coming in from China.
“Chinese nationals,” Jiang then corrected, her voice not raised, “but by the way, not Americans who were also coming from China.”
“Nice and easy. Nice and easy,” Trump said. “Just relax. We cut it off.”
When Jiang attempted to follow up, Trump demanded for her to “keep your voice down” and said she should be thanking him for “closing up the entire country.” He also told her that she should “be doing her research,” quizzing her on case numbers when he implemented the Chinese nationals ban. (There was no widespread testing available during that time.)
“You’re never going to treat me fairly, many of you, and I understand that. I got here with the worst, most unfair press treatment they say in the history of the United States for a president,” Trump bemoaned. “They did say Abraham Lincoln had very bad treatment too.”
Critics of the president and other news media praised Jiang’s calm demeanor, with CNN’s Dana Bash noting that this incident was one of many times where Trump has treated female reporters more harshly than male reporters.
“I mean, come on. She was asking legitimate questions, just like our Jerry Diamond was,” Bash said. “But the way he reacts is different, and I think it’s time to say so.”
However, Trump supporters called Jiang an “anti-Trump activist” and “unhinged” on social media.
Jiang Tweeted the exchange, refuting many of the president’s claims later that day.
The CBS reporter had made headlines in March when she tweeted that a White House official referred to the coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to her face.
She has been rebuked by Trump before, notably when she asked a question about his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in what he called a “very nasty tone.“
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” he said to her during an April 3 news briefing.
Trump knew about the potential spread of the pandemic since January and failed to react, according to a New York Times report. He continuously downplayed the pandemic, calling it a “foreign virus,” and has sparred with several state governors on allocating medical resources.
The president also argued with another female CBS reporter, Paula Reid, eventually saying, “You know you’re a fake. Your whole network” during another April press briefing.
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