In a White House briefing on COVID-19 in which the president affirmed he is on a “war footing” against an “invisible enemy” and in which the nation received updates on the government’s overwhelming response, one question kept coming up from the White House press corps.
Was it a question whose answer would unlock a flood of relief from the American public now hunkered down in their homes for the next 15 days? Was it about the promising vaccine being test in Seattle? No.
So what was the question?
“Why do you keep calling this a Chinese virus?”
One of the reporters, ABC News’s Cecilia Vega, claimed, “There are reports of dozens of incidents of bias against Chinese Americans in this country. Secretary Azar, he does not use this term. He says ethnicity does not cause the virus. Why do you keep using this? A lot of people say it’s racist.”
Hmmm, I wonder if “a lot of people” is Hillary Clinton:
The president is turning to racist rhetoric to distract from his failures to take the coronavirus seriously early on, make tests widely available, and adequately prepare the country for a period of crisis.
Don't fall for it. Don't let your friends and family fall for it.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 18, 2020
Trump wasn’t buying her premise. He patiently explained, “Because it comes from China. It’s not racist at all. No. It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. China. I want to be accurate.”
— Joey Saladino (@JoeySalads) March 18, 2020
Later, another reporter asked him about it, to which the president responded, “I know where it came from. It comes from China. Nobody is questioning that.”
When he was asked again about it, Trump brought up the story in which a Chinese official blamed the U.S. Army for bringing the virus to the PRC. Trump has previously said, “I think saying that our military gave it to them creates a stigma.”
Congresswoman Liz Cheney isn’t quite as delicate in her assessment of Chinese blame, tweeting, “We must never forget: We are in the midst of a pandemic lockdown today because the Chinese Communist regime cared more about suppressing information than suppressing a virus.”
We must never forget: We are in the midst of a pandemic lockdown today because the Chinese Communist regime cared more about suppressing information than suppressing a virus. Must read @marcthiessen #ChineseVirus https://t.co/Y4Pr3nsoac
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) March 18, 2020