- “Why does that matter,” Jiang asked. “Why is this a global competition when, every day, Americans are still losing their lives?”
- “Maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, OK,” Trump retorted.
- It is not the first time Trump has experienced moments of tension in press conferences at the White House on the US response to the covid-19 pandemic.
US President Donald Trump abruptly ended his coronavirus press briefing on Monday after he clashed with an Asian-American reporter following an exchange of words. The journalist in question, Weijia Jiang, is a news reporter with CBS TV. She was born in China and emigrated to the United States with her parents at two years of age.
Jiang asked Trump why he continued to insist that the US was doing better than other countries when it came to testing for the virus, yet many lives are continually being lost in the country. “Why does that matter,” the female journalist asked. “Why is this a global competition when, every day, Americans are still losing their lives?”
In response, President Trump said that people are losing their lives around the world, and told the journalist to direct the question to China. “They’re losing their lives everywhere in the world,” Trump replied. “And maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, OK,” Trump retorted.
President Trump then pointed to the journalist behind Jiang, CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins, to ask another question. However, the CBS reporter responded, “sir, why are you saying that to me specifically?” Jiang implied it was due to her race. “I’m saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that,” Trump replied.
Seeing that the CNN correspondent had allowed Jiang to ask a second question before she shot her question, Trump refused to answer Collins, and went on to the next journalist, Yamiche Alcindor, of PBS. Trump then abruptly concluded the press conference and exited out of the White House Rose Garden Alcindor.
Within a short time, social media was abuzz. Many tweeted in support of the journalist, Jiang, with the hashtag #StandWithWeijiaJiang trending on Twitter. “I #StandWithWeijiaJiang against Trump’s racist tantrums,” tweeted Star Trek actor and prominent Asian-American activist, George Takei.
Reporter and CNN political analyst April Ryan, who has also been on the receiving end of Trump’s words, tweeted: “Welcome to the club! This is sickening! It is his habit! It happened to me with the ‘aren’t they your friends’ comment!” Trump was referring to the Congressional Black Caucus, and Ryan is African-American.
Later, through Twitter, Weijia Jiang thanked and praised the behavior of her colleagues who stood in solidarity with her. It is not the first time that the American President has experienced moments of tension with Jiang and Collins, or others, in press conferences at the White House on the US response to the covid-19 pandemic.
In April, Trump told the CBS journalist to “speak quietly,” following a question about the White House’s initial response to the pandemic. At another press conference, Trump told the CNN journalist to stop talking to him, accusing the channel of broadcasting “fake news.” Also in April, the White House tried to force Collins to sit several rows behind the place assigned to her at press conferences.
CNN has a long history of antagonism with President Trump.