President Donald Trump brought today’s Rose Garden press briefing to an abrupt and upsetting end, telling CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang that her question — about Trump’s competitive mindset on coronavirus testing — was one she should “ask China.” After she pressed him to explain why he lobbed that remark at her, the president huffed away from the podium.
At the Monday briefing, Jiang pointed out that the president has repeatedly emphasized how the United States “is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing,” a claim that does not even appear to hold water. “Why does that matter?” she asked. “Why is this a global competition to you, if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?”
“Well, they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world, and maybe that’s a question you should ask China,” Trump shot back. Jiang, who is Chinese-American, wanted to know why the president reserved that suggestion for her.
“Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” she asked, as he attempted to move on to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, who let Jiang finish her question instead of asking her own. Trump retorted that he was “saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that.” And then, when a second reporter challenged him on the order of operations, he stormed offstage.
Jiang’s initial question is a pertinent one: The president’s math on testing rates is very flawed. Despite his frequent, repeated boasts that the U.S. is “the best in the world on testing,” it’s simply not true — the country trails behind many others in terms of per capita testing, and Trump’s own administration has projected that the daily death toll is likely to keep rising through June. Meanwhile, there’s currently an outbreak of coronavirus at the White House, threatening to undermine Trump’s blustering reassurances that it’s safe to start opening up the nation. So, you see, touchy times for Trump, whose logic is being proved wrong in real time.
But then again, it may simply be that the president gets fussy when reporters call him on his bullshit, something Jiang is particularly good at doing.