Trump abruptly ends press conference after contentious exchange with reporters
President Donald Trump abruptly ended his Monday press conference after a contentious exchange in which he asked an Asian-American journalist to “ask China” about her question and then refused to take a query from another White House reporter.
Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News, asked the President why he sees coronavirus testing as a global competition when more than 80,000 Americans have died.
“Maybe that’s a question you should ask China,” Trump told Jiang, who was born in China and immigrated to the United States when she was two years old. “Don’t ask me. Ask China that question, OK?”
The president then called on another reporter, Kaitlan Collins of CNN, but she paused as Jiang interjected: “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?”
The president replied: “I am not saying it specifically to anybody. I am saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that.”
The CBS correspondent pointed out: “That is not a nasty question.”
Collins, at the microphone, then tried to ask her question, but Trump said he was now looking to someone at the back. As Collins repeatedly objected, the president turned on his heel and left the podium.
Trump has frequently been criticised for adopting a particularly harsh or patronising tone at press conferences to women in general and women of colour in particular. Jiang was born in China but immigrated to America at the age of two.
Peter Maer, a retired White House correspondent for CBS, wrote on social media that Stelter “nails it” when describing Trump’s behaviour as “racist”.
The internet was also quick to rally round Jiang, with the hashtag #StandWithWeijiaJiang soon 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!”
Other critics suggested the exchange was laced with sexism.
“The President’s unprofessionalism is always revealed most clearly when he is interacting with female reporters,” tweeted Olivia Nuzzi, Washington correspondent for New York magazine.
A CNN spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson for CBS News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.