President Donald Trump on Monday abruptly fled the podium and concluded a coronavirus press conference in the White House Rose Garden after making racist comments to one reporter and refusing to answer another.
Trump told CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang to “ask China” about testing after Jiang asked if a focus on which country was doing more testing was inappropriate at a time when thousands of Americans are dying of the disease.
“Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” replied Jiang, who was born in China but raised in West Virginia “That I should ask China?”
.@weijia: Why is this a global competition to you when Americans are losing their lives every day?
TRUMP: Maybe that’s a question you should ask China.
WEIJA: Why are you saying that to me, specifically?
TRUMP: I’m saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that. pic.twitter.com/hokJOXASh8
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 11, 2020
“I’m not saying it specifically to anybody, I’m saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that,” said Trump, pointing to CNN‘s Kaitlan Collins.
But when Collins began to ask a question, the president decided he didn’t want to talk to her and tried to move on, provoking confusion from the CNN White House correspondent.
At that point, the president—without taking another question from anyone—left the podium and walked swiftly back into the White House.
Earlier in the press conference, the president was unable to answer what crimes his predecessor, former President Barack Obama had committed about which Trump tweeted at various points over the 24 hours.
.@PhilipRucker: What crime are you accusing Obama of breaking
Bump: But what is the crime?
Trump: Everyone knows what the crime is pic.twitter.com/sh1FtKpmRX
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) May 11, 2020
Critics on social media noted the president’s racist comments and thin-skinned approach to the press.
“Unbelievably ugly ending to Trump press conference,” tweeted the Washington Post‘s Greg Miller.
Journalist Mairav Zonszein, while praising Jiang and Collins for standing their ground against the president, wondered if the press conferences were doing more harm than good.
“As I have been arguing profusely, sitting through that is mainstreaming workplace harassment and reporters need to call him out in real time or better yet boycott the theater altogether,” said Zonsein.
Intercept reporter Akela Lacy offered a different take.
“People rag on White House reporters for not covering Trump like they should,” Lacy tweeted, “but he literally storms off when they ask hard questions.”