President Donald Trump lambasted an NBC reporter who asked what he would say to Americans who are fearful of the coronavirus pandemic, calling the question “nasty” and telling the reporter he should be “ashamed.”
On Friday, Trump addressed the nation in a press briefing about COVID-19 and the administration’s efforts to stop its spread.
Upon opening the floor for questions, NBC’s Peter Alexander asked the president, “What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”
“I say that you are a terrible reporter, that’s what I say. It’s a very nasty question. It’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people,” Trump responded. “The American people are looking for answers and looking for hope. You’re doing sensationalism.”
He then criticized NBC and Comcast, telling Alexander, “You might want to get back to reporting” and “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” (NBC is a subsidiary of Comcast.)
Moments later, another reporter asked the question again and Trump offered a more measured response:
“My message to the American people is that there is a very low incidence of death ― you understand that ― and we’re going to come through this stronger than ever before,” he said.
“If you happen to get it, it is highly unlikely ― it’s looking like it’s getting to a number that is much smaller than people originally thought in terms of the ultimate problem, which would be death. My message to the American people is number one, you’ve done an incredible job. ... There is tremendous hope.”
Earlier in the conference, Trump closed the U.S.-Mexico border to all nonessential traffic in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The move follows Trump’s earlier decision alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to temporarily close the U.S.-Canada border as of Friday at midnight.
Outside of border closures, measures to slow the virus’ spread have shuttered schools, workplaces, and much more all around the globe. The disease has killed more than 10,000 people worldwide as of Friday morning.
Keep up with the latest updates on the coronavirus at our live blog.