Liberal WH Reporters Peddle Fear, Impugn Trump’s Motives on Reopening, Testing

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The White House press corps must have consumed plenty of Wheaties ahead of Monday’s presidential press conference as, by and large, reporters came at President Trump with an emphasis on fear to keep Americans in their homes and impugn the motives of Trump on both death tolls and testing.

And when CBS’s Weijia Jiang made her latest scene a la Jim Acosta and sought to have Trump ensnared in a racism trap, Trump ended the briefing early, cutting of CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

 

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Fox’s John Roberts and ABC’s Jonathan Karl began with more straight-forward questions about when Americans and their places of work could expect testing capacity like at the White House, but it was almost entirely downhill from there.

Another reporter continued on that path, but her second one set complained about “a double standard” with frequent and robust White House testing versus the rest of the country. Trump fired back by noting journalists would be just as upset if the White House swore off testing in preference to the having the maximum tests for the public, so “we can’t win.”

The reliably awful Washington Post White House bureau chief Phil Rucker came next and insisted that “many Americans want to return to their normal lives but they’re afraid to,” and thus wondered how he could “ensure Americans that it’s safe to go to their own workplaces, when the most secure workplace in the country, the White House cannot contain the spread of the coronavirus.”

Taxpayer-funded PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor similarly griped how could he insist anything anywhere is safe to reopen when Vice President Mike Pence has to self-isolate due to Press Secretary Katie Miller’s positive test.

Jiang had not one but two go-arounds with the President (two questions in the first, one in the second). In the first round, she questioned whether Trump purposefully suppressed widespread testing and also whether he’s playing politics by allowing Americans to begin returning (ever so slightly) to their previous lives (click “expand”):

I have two questions, one on testing and one on Democratic states that you’ve tweeted about. First, the money for this new testing support today comes from the CARES Act, which you signed it into law 42 days ago. Did your delay in embracing widespread testing have anything to do with the desire to suppress the official numbers of U.S. cases and deaths, as you try to reopen the country?

(….)

And earlier today, you tweeted the Democrats are moving slowly for political purposes. Why do you believe that their motive is politics rather than public safety, and how do you respond to criticism that you’re also motivated by politics to try to grow the economy ahead of the election?

Jiang returned later to double down on Trump’s claim about the media’s insistence on bashing the President no matter his response to the pandemic, kvetching the he shouldn’t be talking about testing like a “global competition…if every day, Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day.”

 

 

Trump slammed the question as “nasty” and told her to ask China that question. Sure enough, Jiang tried to trap him on race. As the RNC’s Steve Guest tweeted after the briefing, China came up earlier in an exchange with Reuters’s Steve Holland and thus the topic was irrelevant.

So, when Trump tried to move on, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins thought she had the floor. Because she waited, Trump passed her over and instead walked away (click “expand”):

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 —

TRUMP: I’m telling you.

JIANG: — that I should ask China?

TRUMP: I’m not saying it specifically to anybody. I’m saying it to anyone who would ask a nasty question like that.

JIANG: It’s not a nasty question.

TRUMP: Please go ahead.

JIANG: Why does it matter that [INAUDIBLE]

TRUMP: Okay. Anybody else? Please go ahead in the back. Please.

KAITLAN COLLINS: I have — I have two questions.

TRUMP: No, it’s okay. We’ll go over here.

COLLINS: But you pointed to me. I have two questions, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Next. Next, please.

COLLINS: You called on me.

TRUMP: I did and you didn’t respond and now I’m calling on —

COLLINS: Sorry. I just wanted to let —

TRUMP: — the young lady in the back, please.

COLLINS: — I just wanted to let my colleague finish. But can I ask you two questions, please?

TRUMP: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

COLLINS: But you called on me.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

To see the relevant transcript from the May 11 briefing, click “expand.”

White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing
May 11, 2020
4:38 p.m. Eastern

JOHN ROBERTS: Two-part question, where did the system breakdown to allow that to happen? And where — what would you say to employers to look at the experience here at the White House and say, are we ready for this?

(….)

4:39 p.m. Eastern

ROBERTS: What do you say, Mr. President, to other companies who may look at this and say I don’t know if were ready for all this?

(….)

4:40 p.m. Eastern

JONATHAN KARL: If I can follow up on that, your staff – your senior staff, as you just referenced, was able to get tested every day. When will it be that Americans across the country can get tested every day as they go back to work?

(….)

4:41 p.m. Eastern

KARL: Should people be told to go back to work until they have that assurance that they’re able to get tested? Which we’re still not there.

(….)

4:47 p.m. Eastern

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Mr. President, you’re now promising that everyone who will need a test will be able to get one at some point soon. Can you give us some figures on what you’re changing to ramp up testing? When will that be a true statement exactly? And how exactly are you going to accomplish that?

(….)

4:49 p.m. Eastern

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Mr. President, there does seem to be a double standard, Mr. President, where members of your own staff can get tested frequently when they need, but ordinary Americans cannot, so when will the rest of America have the same access that members of your White House have to testing?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And you know what? If we didn’t get the tests. If we did no tests in the White House you’d be up complaining, why aren’t you getting tests for White House? See, we can’t win because if we didn’t get the tests, you’d be up — I understand you very well. Better than you understand yourself and frankly if we didn’t get tests done, you’d be up complaining about the fact that we didn’t have the tests done. Now we are doing so well on tests and so quick and so fast, five minutes et cetera. So accurate, you’re complaining were getting to money. So, you can’t win. Go ahead.

PHIL RUCKER: Mr. President, many Americans want to return to their normal lives but they’re afraid to do so. How can you ensure Americans that it’s safe to go to their own workplaces, when the most secure workplace in the country, the White House cannot contain the spread of the coronavirus? It’s infected some of your own staff.

(….)

4:55 p.m. Eastern

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The Vice President is said to be in some sort of self-isolating, keeping his distance from people. What you say to Americans who say, how can you — how can you keep me safe, how can you reopen the government if the Vice President is self-isolating and why hasn’t testing gone up to the point where every American who wants a test can get a test?

(….)

4:58 p.m. Eastern

WEIJIA JIANG: I have two questions, one on testing and one on Democratic states that you’ve tweeted about. First, the money for this new testing support today comes from the CARES Act, which you signed it into law 42 days ago. Did your delay in embracing widespread testing have anything to do with the desire to suppress the official numbers of U.S. cases and deaths, as you try to reopen the country?

(….)

4:59 p.m. Eastern

JIANG: And earlier today, you tweeted the Democrats are moving slowly for political purposes. Why do you believe that their motive is politics rather than public safety, and how do you respond to criticism that you’re also motivated by politics to try to grow the economy ahead of the election?

(….)

5:10 p.m. Eastern

KARL: For the admiral, so — so — so Americans who are going back work shouldn’t expect and shouldn’t need, shouldn’t want to have the same thing that people coming to work here at the white house have, which is the ability to get tested regularly regardless symptoms.

ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR: So — so, let me — let me clarify. People who come into close contact with the President get tested on regular basis, okay? If I were not in close contact with the President specifically, I would not get tested, like most people here do not get tested. That’s a very specific circumstance. When I work at HHS, I go to HHS, I don’t get tested. I do the exact thing that we ask Americans to do, to monitor your symptoms. If you are symptomatic, self isolate, get tested with one of our community-based testing sites, at their hospital. There is even at home testing that’s been authorized. And to cooperate, that if you need to be contact traced, be contact tracing cooperate with your local public health. But not everybody who walks in here gets tested every time they do. If you’re symptomatic here at HHS, at a meat-packing plant, at a school, you need to get tested.

(….)

5:15 p.m. Eastern

JIANG: You have said many times that the U.S. IS doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing.

TRUMP: Yes.

JIANG: Why does that matter? Why is it global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are 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 —

TRUMP: I’m telling you.

JIANG: — that I should ask China?

TRUMP: I’m not saying it specifically to anybody. I’m saying it to anyone who would ask a nasty question like that.

JIANG: It’s not a nasty question.

TRUMP: Please go ahead.

JIANG: Why does it matter that [INAUDIBLE]

TRUMP: Okay. Anybody else? Please go ahead in the back. Please.

KAITLAN COLLINS: I have — I have two questions.

TRUMP: No, it’s okay. We’ll go over here.

COLLINS: But you pointed to me. I have two questions, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Next. Next, please.

COLLINS: You called on me.

TRUMP: I did and you didn’t respond and now I’m calling on —

COLLINS: Sorry. I just wanted to let —

TRUMP: — the young lady in the back, please.

COLLINS: — I just wanted to let my colleague finish. But can I ask you two questions, please?

TRUMP: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

COLLINS: But you called on me.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

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