US President Donald Trump spent a portion of his daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday attacking White House reporters who asked objective questions about his past remarks about the coronavirus crisis.
Trump, who has always had a tense relationship with the news media, denied and attacked two different reporters who read a quote from the president back to him. He first went after PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor ― a reporter who the president has regularly attacked as the pandemic continues.
Alcindor began her question by directly quoting Trump from a recent interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, in which the president said he does not believe New York needs all the ventilators that Gov. Andrew Cuomo said they did.
“And you know a lot ― a lot of equipment’s being asked for that I don’t think they’ll need but I’m building,” Trump told Hannity, according to the transcript. “You know, we’re building four hospitals, four medical centers and many other things we’ve developed and sent thousands of ― thousands of ventilators.”
When Alcindor asked Trump on Sunday how that thinking will impact how he fills equipment orders, the president denied that he ever made the comments on Hannity’s show.
Why don’t “you people” act “a little more positive?” Trump told Alcindor as she continued to try and finish her question. “Let me tell you something. Be nice. Don’t be threatening, don’t be threatening. Be nice.”
Trump then had Alcindor’s microphone taken away when she tried to ask her second question.
This is not the first time Trump has gone after Alcindor for her reporting during the pandemic. Earlier this month, the journalist asked about the president’s decision in 2018 to dismantle the National Security Council’s pandemic response unit. Trump said he didn’t “know anything about” it, called the question “nasty” and moved on.
Later in the briefing, CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond chose to defer some of his questioning time to Alcindor so that she could ask the president her second question. Alcindor then asked which health professionals are telling Trump that more people will die from the economic impact than from coronavirus, to which Trump refused to answer directly and instead detailed a vivid scenario of a future depression.
When Alcindor gave the microphone back to Diamond, the CNN reporter read Trump’s comments back to him about wanting to be “appreciated by governors” amid the pandemic. The president, by his account, told Vice President Mike Pence not to call governors who aren’t appreciative of Trump.
“Your statement, your response and your answer is a lie,” Trump told Diamond, who read the president’s direct quote back to him and insisted that he did indeed say that statement. He then called CNN “fake news,” something he’s done from the beginning of his 2016 campaign.
Trump then continued to slam governors who don’t appreciate him enough, saying: “When they disrespect me, they disrespect the government.” He ended the interaction by having the microphone taken away.