According to a CBS White House correspondent, one official within President Donald Trump’s administration referred to the novel coronavirus as “Kung Flu” this week. And it looks as if the derogatory moniker is now gaining some traction across social media.
On Tuesday morning, reporter Weijia Jiang detailed in a Twitter post that an unnamed White House official used the phrase “Kung Flu” in reference to the coronavirus in front of her. Jiang, who is of Chinese descent, noted that she wonders what White House officials are calling the virus behind her back.
The CBS reporter’s tweet got a lot of attention. Within a couple of hours, it had been liked nearly 75,000 times, a move many seemingly made as a show of support for Jiang. The post was shared more than 23,000 times and received more than 9,000 comments.
A number of people encouraged Jiang to name the White House official who used this phrasing. However, so far, she has left the person unnamed.
A few critics pushed back against Jiang and her post, calling her a big baby or questioning why she considered the phrase racist, xenophobic, or offensive.
“Why do you care? There are bigger things going on right now… maybe save the outrage for another day?” criticized one person on Twitter.
Some responded to Jiang’s original post with similarly offensive names that have also been used to reference the coronavirus. There were also accusations that the CBS reporter of made the exchange up entirely.
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
Despite those responses, Jiang did receive a lot of support.
“Trump has 4th graders running our country,” replied one Twitter user.
“The media needs to continue to call this administration out on its xenophobia. Note: the fact Stephen Miller still has a position in this White House is proof of this administration’s xenophobia and racism,” tweeted someone else.
“would be nice if they worked more on how to respond to it and less time coming up with racist names for it,” said response.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) March 16, 2020
While the White House official in question remains unknown, others tied to the Trump administration are getting open criticism for how they’re dealing with the pandemic. For example, the president’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump’s post about having a “camp out” with her kids in the midst of the pandemic received a lot of push back for sounding tone-deaf.
A search for “Kung Flu” on Twitter shows that quite a few are tweeting that they find it funny, while some have even incorporated the phrase into their Twitter names.