During the White House’s daily coronavirus press briefing on March 30, Donald Trump refused to answer CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s question about his former comments on the severity of COVID-19. Instead, the President called Acosta’s inquiry “nasty,” and went on to shame CNN as a network.
In response to Trump’s downplaying of the coronavirus in early March and the negative effects that might’ve had on the nation caused Trump to get visibly rattled. Trump told Acosta “It’s people like you and CNN who say things like that. It’s why people just don’t want to listen to CNN anymore…Instead of asking a nasty, snarky question like that, you should ask a real question.”
Trump continued on to say to Acosta that he “could cause panic much more than even you. I could make you look like a minor league player… I could cause panic. But I don’t want to do that.”
There were mixed reactions online to Acosta’s questioning and Trump’s answer. While conservative media lambasted the CNN reporter online, liberal journalists and like-minded users online heralded him for refusing to let Trump get away from his always swaying statements during a pandemic.
Steve Dworkin, co-founder of the Democratic Coalition tweeted, “CNN’s Jim Acosta just called out Trump for lying about coronavirus. Trump replied by having a tantrum. Trump says he could “cause panic much more than even you. I could make you look like a minor league player.” Americans are dying. And Trump’s being a toddler. #StopAiringTrump”
Right-wing Twitter users shared the view that they didn’t see how Acosta’s question was useful, and that reporters should only focus on what to do next.
However, Trump’s 2016 campaign surrogate David Wohl tweeted, “King of FAKE NEWS @acosta and his horrible network @CNN get body-slammed by Trump after little Jim blurts out yet another stunningly stupid question.”
On CNN afterward, Acosta said that there should be a change to how Trump conducts the daily Task Force meetings. He suggested that instead of using the opening statements to “bring out people like Mr. Pillow” in what appears like a PR stunt, do have Dr. Birx or Dr. Fauci give informed updates to the public.
Trump Has A Track Record Of Going Off On Reporters Who Quote His Previous Statements Back To Him
This is far from the first time Trump has blown up at a reporter during these daily White House press briefings. Any time a journalist asks for clarity on a topic by directly quoting comments Trump has previously made, the President goes on a lengthy off-topic tirade.
The day before, PBS Newshour Yamiche Alcindor was referring to a direct quote Trump made while calling into Sean Hannity’s Fox News series on Friday night. Trump said of New York’s dire need for ventilators, “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be. I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”
Trump denied ever saying that he didn’t believe New York needed such a large number of ventilators, and focused his ire at Alicondor. He said, “Why can’t you people act … why don’t you act in a little more positive … it’s always trying to getcha, getcha, getcha. It’s why nobody trusts the media anymore. That’s why you used to work for the Times and now you work for somebody else.”
Without letting Alcindor finish her question, Trump told the reporter, “Be nice. Don’t be threatening. Be nice.”