CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang made a thinly-veiled accusation of racism against President Donald Trump on Monday afternoon when he spoke about China in response to one of her questions at a press briefing in the Rose Garden.
Her claim was instantly picked up by network and cable news as if Trump had targeted her for being Asian American.
The exchange was as follows:
Jiang: You said many times that the U.S. is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing?
Jiang: Why does that matter? Why is this a global competition to you, if everyday Americans are still losing their lives, and we’re still seeing more cases every day
Trump: Well, 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, okay? When you ask them that question you may get a very unusual answer. Yes, behind you, please.
Jiang: Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically, that I should ask China?
Trump: I’m telling you. I’m not saying it specifically to anybody. I’m saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that. Please go ahead.
Jiang: That’s not a nasty question. Why does it matter…
Trump then tried to call on another reporter, but a different reporter tried to interject. He then ended the press briefing.
The media have repeatedly tried to criticize the Trump’s administration response to the coronavirus pandemic by referring to the performance of the U.S. — most frequently by claiming the U.S. has the most coronavirus cases or deaths, without noting that the U.S. also has a far higher population than most other countries, and that data from China is not reliable.
Trump has repeatedly stressed his belief –later confirmed by revised death counts — that data from China underestimated the impact.
“So when the fake news gets out there and they start talking about the United States is number one — but we’re not number one; China is number one, just so you understand. China is number one by a lot. It’s not even close. They’re way ahead of us in terms of death. It’s not even close. You know it. I know it. And they know it. But you don’t want to report it,” he said in April.
Jiang has a record of making accusations of racism against the Trump White House. In 2018, she reported that a supposed “N-word tape” of Trump using a racial slur existed, based on claims by a disgruntled former official, Omarosa Manigault, that Trump staffers believed it did. Jiang omitted key evidence to the contrary.
In March, she reported that an anonymous, unnamed person at the White House had used the term “Kung Flu” to refer to the coronavirus.
She has repeatedly clashed with Trump at other press briefings. In April, she asked him what White House adviser Jared Kushner meant by calling the federal stockpile of medical supplies “our” stockpile. Trump called it a “gotcha” question.
At a press briefing in April, Trump challenged Jiang to state how many cases of coronavirus were in the U.S., and how many Americans had died, when he implemented his travel ban on China. She did not know. (There were few cases and no deaths.)
Earlier at the Rose Garden press conference, Jiang accused Trump of a “delay in embracing widespread testing” and asked him about whether he wanted to “suppress the official number of U.S. cases and deaths” as he tried to re-open the economy.
Trump answered her calmly.
Jiang then asked the president why he believed that Democrats’ “motive is politics rather than public safety” in slowing the re-opening of the economy, and asked whether he himself had political motives “to try to grow the economy ahead of the election.”
Trump answered her calmly, again.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.