Want to know the worst kept secret in America? Every time President Trump and the White House Press Corps do their performative dance, while the country rolls its eyes and goes about its day — Trump insults everyone. Male, female, black, white, purple, Hispanic or, as in yesterday’s dust-up with CBS reporter Weijia Jiang, Asian. We can argue all day about if his behavior is fitting for the Oval Office (it isn’t) or if it helps the country (it doesn’t), but one thing that’s been clear in the three-plus years of the Trump presidency is that everyone is fair game. Rarely does sex or ethnicity factor into the president’s choice of target: he is an equal opportunities offender.
But the likes of CNN’s Brian Stelter won’t let that fact get in the way of their own performative act of outrage. They tingle at the prospect of mentioning the word ‘racism’ on the air. Most of the media will rise up to offer pointless commentary on the latest reporter to get their name trending on Twitter by sparring with Trump. The hack soaks up the accolades of their fellow journalists as they coalesce around their wounded warrior.
In the latest case of Jiang and the supposed blow-up in the Rose Garden that saw the President stomp away, it began with an attempted ‘gotcha’ question, which contradicted weeks of Jiang’s own approach to the amount of mass COVID-19 testing occurring throughout America. On March 31, Jiang told CBS News from the White House lawn that ‘compared to other countries, the US is falling behind on testing’. On April 16, Jiang tweeted, ‘Trump keeps boasting that the US has done more testing than South Korea, without mentioning the population is about SIX times greater.’ She went on, ‘That’s why @yamiche’s question about the US lagging in testing per capita is so critical. (From weeks about, still unanswered by Trump.)’
That’s a fine criticism of the administration at the time. But as the US has ramped up and started performing more tests than countries such as South Korea, Jiang flipped the script and took the complete opposite approach. ‘You’ve said many times that the US is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing.’ Trump responded with a single yes. Jiang then continued ‘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 other day?’ For weeks, Jiang hammered Trump on lagging behind on testing compared to other countries…then she turned around and said it shouldn’t matter after all?
Trump responded ‘Well, people are losing their lives everywhere in the world and maybe that’s a question you should ask China.’ Trump was clearly laying worldwide casualties at the feet of the country responsible for this global mess, which, for those of you not keeping up, is China. This is evidently not a personal affront to Jiang, who is of Chinese descent. It’s not a slur against her; so why is she taking it as such?
It’s not the first time Jiang and her gang of media circle-jerkers have called racism where there isn’t any. Jiang was the reporter who on March 17 tweeted, ‘This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.’ Jiang refused to name this official and let them be publicly shamed (Kung Flu was a meme name given to coronavirus on social media.) Her tweet even had Bill Kristol, a regular target and critic of the President, asking her to name the administration official.
HuffPost wrote how Trump ‘has notably often directed his anger at the female reporters in the room, especially those who are women of color.’ But there is no basis to the insinuation that, after pulling down her mask in the Rose Garden (which is not a room), Trump told Jiang to ask China because of her ethnicity. There’s certainly nothing to suggest it had anything to do with her gender.
Trump has called white male reporters loudmouths, such as Playboy’s loudmouth White House reporter Brian Karem. He said Peter Alexander was a ‘terrible reporter’, which CNN’s in-house Fox hall monitor Oliver Darcy decried as a ‘vicious attack’. Vicious! Trump told Jon Karl that he was ‘one of the leaders in bad reporting’. All of these incidents occurred in the past month. Do you see a pattern? The only unifying trait between these guys, and Jiang, and Yamiche Altidor, and Kaitlan Collins, and Jim Acosta…is that they’re all reporters.
The White House press corps should be challenging Trump directly and the administration. They should also be asking questions of China. They could do it in a way that doesn’t lead to trending names on Twitter, appearances on Reliable Sources, television hits and book deals. As it stands, do they really think their questions are helpful in halting the spread of the coronavirus?