Trump Bashes CNN’s Jim Acosta at Coronavirus Presser: ‘I Could Cause Panic Much Better Than Even You’

President Donald Trump continued on Monday what is becoming a tradition at his daily coronavirus press conference: lacing into White House reporters.

At his Monday presser in the Rose Garden, Trump selected CNN’s Jim Acosta for a question. The CNN senior White House correspondent asked Trump about his previous comments downplaying the threat of the coronavirus.

“What do you say to Americans who believe that you got this wrong?” Acosta asked.

Trump defended his past statements, claiming they were “all true” and the product of his efforts to “keep the country calm.”

The president then dropped an odd claim: “I don’t want panic in the country. I could cause panic much better than even you. I would make you look like a minor league player. But you know what? I don’t want to do that. I want to have our country be calm and strong and fight and win and it will go away.”

Trump then started attacking CNN for Acosta’s question, which he deemed “nasty” and “snarky.” (He would, later in the press conference, call a question from PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor as “snarky” as well.)

[Mediaite]

Trump Berates Reporter, Calls Her ‘Threatening’ For Asking About Comments He Made on Coronavirus

President Donald Trump berated PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor for a question she asked, at Sunday’s press conference on the coronavirus, regarding his war of words with U.S. governors.

In response, Trump bashed Alcindor in personal terms, billing her question as “threatening.”

“I have two questions,” the PBS reporter started. “The first is, you’ve said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment that governors are requesting, they don’t need.”

Trump cut in: “I didn’t say that.”

“You said it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News — you said that you might…” Alcindor replied before being interrupted.

“Why don’t you people act…why don’t you act in a little more positive?” Trump said. “It’s always trying to get you, get you. And you know what, that’s why nobody trusts the media anymore.”

“Excuse me, you didn’t hear me,” he continued, as Alcindor attempted to continue her question. “That’s why you used to work for Times, and now you work for somebody else. Look, let me tell you something, be nice. Don’t be threatening.”

“Be nice. Go ahead,” Trump added.

“My question is, how is that going to impact how you fill these orders for ventilators or masks?” Alcindor asked.

“We’re producing a tremendous number of ventilators,” Trump stated. “We’re doing a great job on it.”

Later in the exchange, Trump again called Alcindor’s question “threatening,” while also calling her a “fine journalist.”

“You know, when journalists get up and you’re a journalist, a fine journalist and ask questions that are so threatening, we’re all on the same team,” Trump stated.

Alcindor replied, “I was quoting you directly from your interview with Sean Hannity.”

Trump did make the comments that Alcindor asked him about. In an interview with Hannity this week, the president said of governors: “A lot of equipment is being asked for that I don’t think they will need.”

The PBS correspondent attempted to ask her second question, but Trump said, “That’s enough” and a White House staffer removed the microphone from Alcindor. It was later returned to her by CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond.

[Mediaite]

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Trump Lashes Out at NBC News’ Peter Alexander Over Question About What to Tell ‘Scared Americans’

President Donald Trump called an NBC News journalist a “terrible reporter” for asking a legitimate question about what the president would say to Americans feeling scared about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of at least 194 people in the country.

“What do you say to Americans who are scared?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked on Friday. “There’ll be 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions — as you witnessed — who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans watching you right now who are scared?”

“I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” Trump responded. “I think that’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism, and the same with NBC. … That’s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.”

President Donald Trump called an NBC News journalist a “terrible reporter” for asking a legitimate question about what the president would say to Americans feeling scared about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of at least 194 people in the country.

“What do you say to Americans who are scared?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked on Friday. “There’ll be 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions — as you witnessed — who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans watching you right now who are scared?”

“I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” Trump responded. “I think that’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism, and the same with NBC. … That’s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.”

[Yahoo News]

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Trump defends use of the term ‘China virus’

President Donald Trump defended his use of the term “China virus” to describe Covid-19 on Tuesday, saying he uses the term because China tried to blame its spread on the American military.”I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody,” Trump said during a White House press briefing.”China was putting out information, which was false, that our military gave this to them. That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said I had to call it where it came from. It did come from China. So, I think it’s a very accurate term,” he said.

The President also pushed back at suggestions that using the term creates a stigma.

“I don’t think so. I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma,” Trump said.CNN previously reported that a prominent Chinese official has promoted a conspiracy theory that the US military could have brought the novel coronavirus to China — and it did not originate in the Chinese city of Wuhan.Parts of Chinese social media, and even the country’s government, appear to have launched a concerted campaign to question the origin of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 170,000 people globally as of Tuesday midday, according to CNN’s case tracker.The first reported cases of the virus were in Wuhan, and scenes from the city in lockdown shocked the world. The lockdown gave an early indication for how seriously global authorities would need to combat the fast-spreading virus.

[CNN]

Reality

Some Chinese news outlets and officials have pushed the unfounded claim the American military gave China the coronavirus, but this is beyond petty to reciprocate.

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Trump Attacks ‘Failing’ Michigan Governor After She Hits ‘Mind-Boggling’ Coronavirus Response on MSNBC

President Donald Trump attacked Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Twitter for “failing” to combat the coronavirus in her state after she claimed to have little federal support on MSNBC.

“Failing Michigan Governor must work harder and be much more proactive,” Trump wrote. “We are pushing her to get the job done. I stand with Michigan.”

“But we need the federal government to work. We need respirators and ventilators and personal protection equipment. We need more test kits and the resources to process those test kits in a quick expedited manner,” added the Governor.

When Ruhle asked, “Can you get [the tests] without federal support?” Whitmer responded, “No, no! We need federal support. Like I said, we’re pulling out all of the stops and reaching out to our partners in the private sector and we’re going to do everything we can to supplement but it’s not to the exclusion of federal support. We need the federal government to ramp up and get this done.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Bashes Cuomo For Wanting All States Treated Equally for ‘Chinese Virus’: ‘Keep Politics Out Of It’

President Donald Trump is keeping his fight with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo going, tussling over how to address the coronavirus pandemic.

“Cuomo wants “all states to be treated the same.” But all states aren’t the same,” Trump tweeted, before using a name for the disease critics have slammed as racist. “Some are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are being hit practically not at all. New York is a very big “hotspot”, West Virginia has, thus far, zero cases. Andrew, keep politics out of it….”

Trump’s tweet is a continuation of the swipes he launched on Cuomo after Monday’s teleconference between the president and state governors across the country. Cuomo has repeatedly expressed frustration that the federal government isn’t doing enough to respond to the virus, so Trump accused him of being the one who has to “do more.”

Cuomo fired back by saying “YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.” He also said he’d be “happy” to do Trump’s job if the president hands control of the Army Corps of Engineers over to him.

[Mediaite]

Trump Snaps at ‘Nasty Question’ About Disbanding White House Pandemic Office in 2018

President Donald Trump snapped at a reporter’s “nasty question” about his administration decimating the White House pandemic department in 2018.

PBS News reporter Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump on Friday during a coronavirus press conference about his claim he takes no responsibility for problems with the response to the pandemic.

“My first question is you said that you don’t take responsibility but you did disband the White House pandemic office and the officials that were working in that office left this administration abruptly. So what responsibility do you take to that?” asked the PBS NewsHour reporter. “The officials that worked in that office said that the White House lost valuable time because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that?”

“Well, I just think it’s a nasty question because what we’ve done, and Tony [Fauci] had said numerous times that we saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing,” President Trump responded. “And when you say me, I didn’t do it. We have a group of people… I could have perhaps ask Tony about that because I don’t know anything about it. I mean you say we did that, I don’t know anything about it. It’s the administration, perhaps, they do that. You know people let people go.”

“You used to be with a different newspaper than you are now, you know things like that happen,” he continued, before adding, “We are doing a great job. Let me tell you, these professionals behind me and these great incredible doctors and business people, the best in the world, and I can say that whether it’s retailers or labs or anything you want to say.”

“These are the best in the world,” President Trump concluded. “We are doing a great job.”

[Mediaite]

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Trump snaps at CNN’s Acosta for asking about health officials contradicting his coronavirus claims

President Donald Trump snapped at CNN reporter Jim Acosta for asking about the White House’s own officials who contradict what the president says about the coronavirus.

“What do you say to Americans who are concerned that you’re not taking this seriously enough and that some of your statements don’t match what your health experts are saying?” asked Acosta.

“That’s CNN. Fake news,” Trump dismissed the question.

Trump was speaking after a meeting with Wall Street bank CEOs, which happened as the Dow Jones hit “bear market” territory at its close Wednesday. He took a few questions from the press during the photo opportunity, and Acosta asked the question. Trump was furious and kicked the press out.

“Tried to ask Trump to respond to Americans who are concerned he’s not taking situation seriously enough and that his statements don’t match what health experts are saying. He did not answer the question,” tweeted Acosta.

[Raw Story]

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Trump pushes back on Vanity Fair report he’s ‘melting down’ over coronavirus

President Trump pushed back on a Vanity Fair article Wednesday that reported he is “melting down” over the coronavirus.

The article, published Monday, cites a person close to the administration saying Trump is “definitely melting down over this,” referring to the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump hit back, saying that the magazine “will soon be out of business,” and claiming “their third rate Fake reporters, who make up sources which don’t exist, wrote yet another phony & boring hit piece.”

“The facts are just the opposite,” the president tweeted. “Our team is doing a great job with CoronaVirus!”

The article, written by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, says the source close to the administration said the president is afraid journalists are trying to get coronavirus to infect him on Air Force One. The president also asked the Secret Service to set up a program and ban anyone who has a cough on the White House grounds, according to the story.  

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the article “100% fake news” on Monday, the day it was published.

“@gabrielsherman did not reach out to me,” she said. “False & sensational writing on this topic is irresponsible. POTUS has spent plenty of time w the press pool – simply ask ur colleagues. Nothing about your little college essay is funny or true & I want a retraction.”

Trump has praised the government’s efforts to contain the virus and send out tests. The president decided against taking a test for the virus after his physician said he didn’t it wasn’t necessary.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal. I would do it. I don’t feel any reason. I feel extremely good. I feel very good, but I guess it’s not a big deal to get tested and it’s something I would do,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.

[The Hill]

Trump’s visit to the CDC shows why there’s concern about his coronavirus response

President Donald Trump visited the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday amid his administration’s push to control the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus first observed in China. But in a press conference during that visit, Trump did little to help Americans understand the government’s response to the virus, instead spreading misinformation while using the public health crisis for self-aggrandizement.

The president spent much of the press conference working to convince the public his administration has the coronavirus under control, something that does not appear to be the case.

For instance, while it is unclear how many people have been infected by the virus due to a delay in testing, it has become increasingly clear in recent days that there are Americans infected with the virus across the country. The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the United States has more than doubled in the past week, and as CNN’s Ryan Struyk reported, at least seven states — Minnesota, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Kentucky, Nebraska, Hawaii, and Utah — reported their first Covid-19 cases following Trump’s CDC visit.

Yet during the press conference, Trump dismissed any criticism against the government’s handling of the virus, stressing in particular the availability of Covid-19 tests.

“As of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test [can have one], that’s the important thing, and the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect, the transcription was perfect,” Trump said, seemingly referring to the White House transcript of his call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in which he requests an investigation into his political rivals.

That call was, of course, not perfect, and helped lead to the president’s impeachment — and the tests have not been perfect either.

There have been three main problems with the US government’s coronavirus tests: the first batch, distributed in February, is believed to have had a faulty reagent leading to inconclusive results; once that issue was corrected, there was not enough CDC capacity to test the kits that had been sent out (leading the center to open up testing to state-level facilities), and there aren’t currently enough tests to go around.

Several states have been pushing the CDC for more Covid-19 test kits, and have criticized the government for its slow response in making more tests available. New York, where there are more than 70 confirmed cases, cannot meet the demand for testing because it doesn’t have enough tests, according to Raul Perea-Henze, the New York City deputy mayor for health and human services.

“With multiple positive cases, NYC needs maximum testing capacity to enable successful implementation of the public health strategies that best protect New Yorkers,” Perea-Henze wrote in a letter Friday, requesting more testing kits. “The slow federal action on this matter has impeded our ability to beat back this epidemic.”

California simultaneously does not have enough kits to test all those at risk of having been infected, and does not have the lab capacity to process all of the tests it has already run. Lab technicians have been working 18-hour shifts in order to try to work through a testing backlog, but have been unable to do so. In Los Angeles County, commercial laboratories will begin processing tests on Monday, which is expected to help alleviate this issue.

But not all states have the resources California and New York do — while they were able to send tests to state-run labs after the CDC began allowing them to do so, some states, including Maine, Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, do not currently have the capacity for in-state testing.

The government has tried to respond to mounting criticism about the shortage of testing kits. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence promised to increase supply, saying 1.5 million tests would be made available. So far, however, the actual number of tests being administered fails to live up to that promise — as of Friday, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said the CDC had distributed enough tests for 75,000 people, and partnered with a private firm to distribute material for 700,000 additional tests.

Trump’s CDC presser confirms everything people were worried about if Covid-19 hit the US

Even before the recent uptick in US-based Covid-19 cases, critics of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response argued the administration was disorganized and ill-equipped to combat Covid-19. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias has written, the president was slow to put someone in charge of the coronavirus response efforts — and when he finally did, he selected Vice President Mike Pence, someone who failed in his responses to public health crises while serving as governor of Indiana, according to experts. And there were also concerns Trump’s efforts to cut CDC funding — and the size of the administration’s initial coronavirus budget — might have limited the government’s ability to fight the virus effectively.

But experts have argued the biggest issue with the administration’s coronavirus response so far is, as former director of the USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance Jeremy Konyndyk told Vox’s Alex Ward, Trump has “made it primarily about himself.”

And this concern was on display at the CDC press conference when Trump took time to talk at length about his own intelligence, in part by referencing a “great, super genius” uncle who taught at MIT.

“I like this stuff. I really get it,” Trump said. “People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors say, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should’ve done that instead of running for president.”

Trump’s public response, however, is a reminder of how he has recently put his public health knowledge into question. During a White House meeting on Monday with pharmaceutical executives and public health officials, Trump displayed his ignorance by pushing for a vaccine to be developed in a few months (something he has promised the public will happen) — even though that’s just not how it works.

And he went on to express confusion as to why pharmaceutical companies can’t release the drugs they are currently working on immediately, as Vox’s Aaron Rupar reported:

Trump pressed the pharmaceutical leaders on why they can’t just release the coronavirus drugs their companies are working on tomorrow — in the process revealing that he doesn’t understand the concept of clinical trials.

“So you have a medicine that’s already involved with the coronaviruses, and now you have to see if it’s specifically for this. You can know that tomorrow, can’t you?” he said.

“Now the critical thing is to do clinical trials,” explained Daniel O’Day, CEO of Gilead Sciences, which has two phase-three clinical trials going for remdesivir, a potential treatment for the coronavirus. “We have two clinical trials going on in China that were started several weeks ago … we expect to get that information in April.”

Hours after learning about how vaccines work and the timeline for a potential coronavirus vaccine, Trump told supporters at a rally: “We had a great meeting today with a lot of the great companies, and they’re going to have vaccines I think relatively soon. And they’re going to have something that makes you better, and that’s going to actually take place we think even sooner.”

It isn’t clear why Trump said this, particularly after seemingly having been disabused of his misconceptions in his White House meeting, but such a statement does not support his claim at the CDC that “I understand that whole [scientific] world.”

Nor did the president’s CDC visit allay concerns about a lack of coordination between officials. If anything, it added confusion to an already tumultuous — and potentially dangerous — situation.

For example, the Trump administration has been offering a variety of answers to the question of whether the country is experiencing a shortage of test kits (it is). On Thursday, Pence said, “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward,” according to The Hill.

Trump, however, had a completely different message as he boasted of the US’s testing capabilities in Atlanta on Friday, saying, “Anybody who needs a test gets a test. … They have the tests and the tests are beautiful.”

This left Pence with the difficult task Friday of attempting to bring his factually correct messaging in line with the president’s incorrect statements.

“I think for any American that’s symptomatic, speaking to your doctor, if you have reason to believe that you have been exposed to the coronavirus, I have every confidence that your physician would contact state health officials and have access to the state lab,” Pence said at a White House briefing. And this, unlike Trump’s statement, is closer to the truth — the CDC revised its testing guidelines on Wednesday, allowing primary physicians to conduct testing in concert with local authorities. Whether local labs have the ability to process those tests, or if those tests are even available, however, remains a matter of concern.

Although we’ve grown used to the Trump administration’s frequent inconsistency in messaging, it becomes dangerous in times like this, when transparent communication is key in helping contain a disease and keep trust in the government strong. And Trump’s tendency to self-aggrandize is not helpful in a moment that calls for collaboration and creating an apolitical environment.

Trump continues to politicize the Covid-19 outbreak

In fact, perhaps the most concerning aspect of the CDC conference was how it gave us a glimpse into Trump’s view of the coronavirus as a political rather than health-based issue.

During his remarks, Trump said he would rather have the passengers of the Grand Princess, a cruise ship docked in San Francisco with 21 confirmed cases onboard, stay on the ship than move to land — all because doing so would raise the number of total Covid-19 cases in the US.

“I would rather because I like the numbers being where they are,” Trump said. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault. And it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either, okay? It wasn’t their fault either and they’re mostly Americans. So, I can live either way with it. I’d rather have them stay on, personally.”

Trump’s comment suggests a grim reality: that keeping the number of Covid-19 cases low is more important to him than the actual people who have the disease — all because he wants to avoid the political fallout of a growing case count.

And that wasn’t the only political moment during the conference — he also took time out to praise Fox News for its ratings, attack CNN as “fake news,” and smear Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee — who was praised by Pence for his work in fighting the spread of Covid-19 — as a “snake” who wants to “take advantage” of the administration’s kindness.

These sort of attacks undercut the seriousness of the situation — and they also draw attention toward Trump and away from the coronavirus itself. And they come at a time when the virus needs more attention than ever.

[Vox]

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