President Donald Trump berated an Asian American reporter that asked him about the death rate due to the coronavirus – suggesting she ask the Chinese – and then cut off his press conference after a CNN reporter he previously clashed with tried to question him.
The president on Monday had another round of run-ins with CBS News’ Weijia Jiang and CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, each of whom he’s bickered with at previous press conferences. Trump previously said neither Jiang nor her fellow CBS News reporter was a ‘Donna Reed’ and White House staff tried to move Collins out of her front row seat to the back of the briefing room in late April.
Trump was testy with both of them again on Monday.
President Donald Trump berated an Asian American reporter that asked him about the death rate due to the coronavirus
President Trump clashed with CBS News’ Weijia Jiang (sitting in the red jacke) and CNN’s Kaitlan Collins (standing in the white jacket) in the White House Rose Garden press conference
Jiang asked President Trump why he was emphasizing the United States’ led in testing for the coronavirus when there was still a high rate of infection. ‘Why does that matter? Why is it global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?,’ she asked.
‘Maybe that’s a question you should ask China,’ Trump responded. The administration has tried to put the blame for the coronavirus on China.
‘Don’t ask me. Ask China that question, okay,’ the president said. ‘When you ask them that question, you make it a very unusual answer.’
He then moved on to call on Collins. ‘Yes behind you please,’ he said.
But, before she went to the microphone, Collins said to Jiang: ‘Do you want to follow up?’
Jiang, who is Chinese American, asked Trump: ‘Sir, why are you saying that to me -specifically.’
Her implication seemed to be the president answered her that way because of her race. Jiang did not mention China in her question but Trump brought it up in his response.
‘I’m not saying it specifically to anybody,’ Trump said. ‘I’m saying that to anyone who would ask a nasty question like that.’
‘That’s not a nasty question,’ she responded.
CBS News’ Weijia Jiang, who is Chinese American, asked President Trump why he mentioned China in his answer to her question, which was not about China
Trump moved on to call on another reporter. ‘Anyone else? Please go ahead. In the back.’
Collins stepped up to the microphone: ‘I have two questions.’
Trump waved her off. ‘No it’s okay. We’ll go over here. Next.’
‘You called on me,’ Collins told him.
‘I did. And you didn’t respond,’ the president said.
‘I just wanted to let my colleague finish,’ Collins said, gesturing to Jiang.
And, with that, Trump ended his press conference.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate it,’ he said and turned to walk back into the Oval Office.
President Trump ended his press conference after his clash with the two female reporters
CNN’s Kaitlin Collins tried to ask her question but Trump ended his press conference
The president has faced criticism for what appears to be a disproportion series of attacks on female reporters. Also facing his wrath has been Paula Reid of CBS News and Yamiche Alcindor of PBS.
In mid-April, Trump told Jiang to ‘keep your voice down’ as she asked him about what he did to warn the American people in February that the coronavirus was being spread like ‘wildfire.’
Jiang pointed to comments Trump had made earlier, in which he said he was ‘angry’ because information about the coronavirus ‘should have been told to us’ earlier.
‘Many Americans are saying the exact same thing about you, that you should have warned them the virus was spreading like wildfire through the month of February, instead of holding rallies with thousands of people,’ Jiang said. ‘Why did you wait so long to warn them?’
Trump interrupted Jiang to ask her ‘who are you with?’ and then pointed to his late January ban of flights coming in from China.
‘Chinese nationals … by the way, not Americans who were also coming in from China,’ Jiang corrected the president.
President Trump told a female reporter on Sunday to ‘keep your voice down’ and ‘just relax’ when she asked him why he didn’t sound the alarm sooner that the coronavirus was spreading like wildfire
CBS News’ Weijia Jiang pointed to the president’s comments – that he was ‘angry’ that the U.S. wasn’t informed sooner about coronavirus – when asking why he didn’t warn the American people sooner about the pandemic
Jiang detailed the encounter on Twitter Sunday, commenting that the president had told her to ‘relax’
To this he responded to the reporter by saying, ‘Nice and easy.’ ‘Nice and easy, just relax,’ Trump said.
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Weijia Jiang got her first broadcast news break for Channel One aged just 13 when she was a student reporter and anchor for the children’s network which was also a proving ground for CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade.
Born in Xiamen, China, to parents who immigrated to West Virginia when she was two. They ran a Chinese restaurant in Buckhannon in the state’s coal-mining belt.
She went on to study at the College of William and Mary and Syracuse, in New York, before throwing herself into a local television career first in Maryland, then in New York.
The 35-year-old moved to Washington D.C. in 2016 for CBS, and is now a permanent White House correspondent.
An Edward R. Murrow Award-winner, the clash with Trump was not her first; in 2018, at the height of the storm over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, he told her to ‘sit down’ and ‘stop interrupting’ when she pressed him to answer her question.
She married her husband, Luther Lowe, a Washington D.C.-based executive with Yelp, in California two years ago in a ceremony performed by Jim Obergefell, whose fight for recognition of same sex-marriage led to the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage.
‘We cut it off. People were amazed. These gentlemen, everybody was amazed that I did it. We had 21 people in the room, everybody was against it but me. Dr. Fauci said, had I not done that perhaps tens of thousands and maybe much more than that would have died,’ the president continued. ‘I was very early. Very, very early.’
Trump then pointed to a tweet that he had sent out earlier Sunday quoting Fox News Channels Bret Baier who wrote that at the February 19 Democratic debate in Las Vegas the coronavirus didn’t come up once.
‘It wasn’t even mentioned – the Democrats,’ Trump said.
‘And you’re the president, sir. And you didn’t warn people that it was spreading so quickly,’ Jiang shot back. ‘And, by the way, when you issued the ban, the virus was already here.’
Trump then asked the CBS News reporter if she knew how many cases were in the United States when he implemented the China ban. ‘Do you know the number?’ he asked. ‘Tell me. ‘
‘But did you know that it was going to spread and become a pandemic?’ Jiang answered instead.
The president said she needed to do her research.
‘I did my research,’ Jiang said. ‘On the 23rd of March you said you knew this was going to be a pandemic, well before the [World Health Organization.] So did you know it was going to spread?’
Trump said that he ‘did know it.’
‘All – anybody knew it. Just – are you ready? How many cases were in the United States when I did my ban? How many people had died in the United States?’ Trump continued to ask.
When Jiang took that to mean that he didn’t think it was going to spread, Trump laid into her.
‘Keep your voice down, please,’ he told her ‘Keep your voice down.’
In an interview with The New York Post last week, Trump said neither Jiang nor her colleague Paula Reid were a ‘Donna Reed.’
‘It wasn’t Donna Reed, I can tell you that,’ Trump said, referring to the the mom in an eponymous family TV sitcom of the ’50s and ’60s.
In late April, President Trump abruptly cut off one of his coronavirus press briefings without taking any questions from the press shortly after Collins refused to move to the back of the room.
Collins said she was asked by White House officials to swap seats with another reporter several rows behind her, minutes before Trump’s briefing on Friday afternoon.
Reporters’ seats are assigned in advance through the White House Correspondents Association, and major TV networks, such as CNN, have front row seats.
Collins cited the WHCA guidelines and refused to switch seats with Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson, who was sitting in the sixth row and who also refused to move. A White House official then suggested the Secret Service would get involved if they didn’t swap seats, although no action was taken.
Moments later, Trump entered the room for the briefing but cut it short after 22 minutes, failing to take any questions from the press.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN’s White House Correspondent, said she was asked by White House officials to swap seats with another reporter several rows back minutes before Trump’s briefing on Friday afternoon
Kaitlin Collins, circled, had a front row seat at that April 24 briefing
Trump left the briefing after 22 minutes, refusing to take questions from the media
The day before that briefing, Trump had a spat with Collins as he addressed a question from another reporter about Kim Jong Un’s health status, as reports circulated the North Korean dictator was near death.
When Collins tried to follow up with her own question, Trump cut her off, saying: ‘No, that’s enough. The problem is, you don’t write the truth.’
Collins tried to interject, but Trump said: ‘No, not CNN. I told you, CNN is fake news. Don’t talk to me.’
It seems Thursday’s altercation played into Friday’s incident when the White House tried to move Collins to the back of the room.
However, the White House does not control press seating.
It is handled by the WHCA and is seating is determined by the news outlet’s size.