Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News, was told by President Donald Trump to “Ask China,” after questioning him during his May 11 briefing.
She was promoted to White House correspondent and an anchor on network CBS shows in July 2018. Since then, she has had controversial encounters with Trump, both of which have earned backlash on social media and from other reporters.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Started Journalism at the Age of 13
— Channel One News (@ChannelOneNews) January 10, 2018
Weijia (pronounced “wee-juh”) Jiang, the daughter of Liya Wei and Huade Jiang, was born in Xiamen, China but grew up in West Virginia, according to Hollywood Life. The New York Times reported that her parents, who are retired, owned and operated Chinatown Restaurant in Buckhannon, West Virginia.
At the age of 13, she was a student reporter and anchor for Channel One News in Los Angeles, similar to Channel One alums Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling. She received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a minor in chemistry from the College of William & Mary in 2005 and earned her master’s in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University in 2006.
Jiang worked at local CBS affiliates including ones in Baltimore, Pennsylvania and New York until she joined the national network. She has been featured on the CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning before she became the White House and Capitol Hill reporter for CBS news.
“Over the past several months, Weijia Jiang has consistently shown that she has what it takes to cover this White House–she asks the right questions, she provides context and depth, and she is fast on her feet,” Christopher Isham, CBS News vice president and Washington bureau chief, told Deadline.
2. Trump Told Her to “Ask China” in Response to A Question
During a press conference, Jiang asked Trump why he said the U.S. is doing better testing than “any other country,” and asked why he has made the issue a competition when “Americans are losing their lives.”
When she asked why he had specifically asked her that question, he said he would make the same suggestion to anyone who asked a “nasty question” and abruptly left the stage soon after the encounter.
On AC360°, political commentator and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang said Trump was drawing from a Republican memo sent in late April, which Politico reported as saying, “Don’t defend Trump … attack China.”
“When Trump got a question about this administration of the virus, he went straight to that playbook,” Yang said. The fact that he said it to a Chinese-American reporter just serves to further that distraction, Yang added.
3. This Isn’t Her First Controversial Moment with Trump
On Apr. 19, Jiang asked Trump if his response to the coronavirus had been delayed:
“Many Americans are saying the exact same thing about you, that you should have warned them the virus was spreading like wildfire through the month of February instead of holding rallies with thousands of people. Why did you wait so long to warn them and why did not have social distancing until March 16?”
Trump responded by asking “Who are you with?” several times before responding that he had cut off China. When Jiang clarified that he had barred Chinese nationals but not Americans, Trump responded by saying, “Nice and easy, nice and easy, just relax.”
Moments later, when Jiang asked him to acknowledge that didn’t think it would spread, he told her “Keep your voice down, please.”
His words drew criticism from fellow journalists and those on social media alike:
In honor of Weijia Jiang and the sexist words “just relax,” I’d like to join every righteous woman on earth at this moment in rhetorically slapping the absolute living shit out of Donald Trump.
— Jason Overstreet (@JasonOverstreet) April 20, 2020
4. She Has Alleged Someone from the White House Called Coronavirus “Kung-Flu”
This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 17, 2020
In March of 2017, Jiang alleged that a White House staffer referred to the virus as “Kung flu,” prompting a backlash from the Asian American Journalists Association.
There has been a torrent of hurtful and racist remarks and actions targeted at Americans of Asian descent amid the coronavirus outbreak. AAJA denounces racism and xenophobia, and stands by our community and our members, including our very own @weijia. https://t.co/DTRshkr2tb
— aaja (@aaja) March 17, 2020
The comments came in the context of Trump referencing coronavirus as the “Chinese flu,” which he later defended by saying he called it that “‘Cause it comes from China. It’s not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China … I want to be accurate” as CNN reported.
Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway addressed Trump’s and the alleged staffer’s comments in a press conference where she defended Trump’s description of coronavirus as the “Chinese flu” by saying, “I think he’s talking about where it started.”
She also said that any description of the virus as “Kung-flu” was “highly offensive,” declared, “Of course it’s wrong” and added that if the allegation were true, she would like to know the identity of the staffer. When pressed by PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor, Conway responded with a statement about the heritage of her husband, George Conway. “I’m married to an Asian America and my kids are 25% Flipino,” she said.
Jiang has covered anti-Asian sentiment from the virus for CBS news, going to Chinatown and speaking to business-owners who told her they were scared.
5. She Is Married and A Mother
So grateful to work for a company that offers parental leave, which prepared me for this very bittersweet day. Off to make you proud, Frankie Mei! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/vgnPlYe3AC
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) April 15, 2019
Jiang met Travis Luther Lowe in 2003 when they were both at the College of William & Mary. At the time, the two hosted an online TV show with news and political commentary and they became close friends.
Of William & Mary, Jiang said, “I am forever grateful for that intensity and openness to allowing us to explore and to satisfy our curiosity. That curiosity helps you carve out your entire career, whatever field you choose.”
Lowe went on to become the global vice president for public policy at the Yelp organization where people can post reviews of handiwork, restaurant and other service industries. Jiang went from CBS in Baltimore and the New York local station to work for the national CBS station.
According to the New York Times, a streetside fortune teller said they were “destined to spend eternity together.” The couple got married on Mar. 17, 2018 in Palm Springs, California and they have a daughter, Frankie Mei.