President Donald Trump hasn’t responded well to tough questions on his administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and dismissed a Black journalist’s question as “nasty” when she dared to press him on the issue last week.
Trump held a press conference on Friday after publicly declaring a national emergency amid the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. The disease, officially known as COVID-19, has impacted nearly 3,500 people across the United States and 35 Americans have died.
The president, who previously claimed the virus was a “hoax” that would simply “go away,” grew visibly agitated when “PBS Newshour” White House reporter Yamiche Alcindor pressed him about the decision to dissolve the pandemic response team back in 2018.
“You said that you don’t take responsibility,” Alcindor began, “but you did disband the White House pandemic office. The officials that were working in that office left this administration abruptly, so what responsibility do you take for that?”
She further noted that officials in that same office argued the White House had “lost valuable time” because the office was axed and asked Trump his thoughts: “What do you make of that?”
The president completely sidestepped the question, calling it “nasty.”
“I just think it’s a nasty question,” he began, “because what we’ve done is — and Tony has said numerous times that we’ve saved thousands of lives because of the quick closing,” he said, referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “And when you say me — I didn’t do it.”
Stammering, the former “Apprentice” star continued to play ignorant and acted as if he had no parts in the disbandment of the pandemic response team, a directive given by then-National Security Advisor John Bolton.
“I don’t know anything about it,” Trump said, still responding to Alcindor. “It’s the administration, perhaps they do that, people let people go. You used to be with a different newspaper than you are now. You know — things like that happen.”
This isn’t the first time the POTUS has snapped at Alcindor for her line of questioning. In 2018, he criticized her over what he considered a “racist question” when Alcindor asked him about comments he made in labeling himself a nationalist.
Online critics have decried the president’s bad behavior toward journalists, specifically journalists of color, and argued it was clear he was intimidated by “strong women.”
He is so rude, completely uncouth,” one Twitter user wrote. “He is a mean monster. Strong, smart women don’t take his bullying.”
“That question was fair and asked professionally,” another chimed in. “Toddler in Chief @realDonaldTrump@POTUS can’t handle important questions…or questions that have ‘big words.’ ”
Another critic agreed, writing: “Trump cant handle any questions that contains the truth let alone it come from a smart strong woman!”
The seasoned reporter responded to Trump’s latest jab on Monday, telling MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski Scarborough that what this moment calls for is “credibility, leadership and compassion.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people think President Trump just isn’t showing that,” Alcindor explained. “What you have here is a president who was really left flat-footed, and struggling to deal with this coronavirus outbreak, and really finding the compassion and credibility needed in this moment.”