During a press briefing on Thursday, Donald Trump accused the media of taking the side of China in its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. As reported for The Hill, the president made the comment while responding to a question from Chanel Rion of the pro-Trump One America News Network, who claimed the media is siding with China’s state propaganda.
“I think they do,” he said. “They are siding with China. They are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. They’re siding with many others. China’s the least of it.”
As for why the media is purportedly taking China’s side, Trump said he didn’t have an answer to such a question.
“So why they’re doing this, you’ll have to ask them. If we had an honest media in this country our country would be an even greater place.”
Trump has taken heavy criticism for his use of the phrase “Chinese virus,” which he recently began using to refer to the coronavirus. In a piece for Business Insider, John Haltiwanger claimed that Trump and his allies are using the term to stir controversy and shift attention from the president’s “early failures” in dealing with the coronavirus.
“Instead of taking responsibility for and addressing early failures, they’re blaming the crisis on China,” Haltiwanger wrote.
In defense of his response, Trump pointed to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijia’s claim that the coronavirus originated from the U.S. military. According to the president, his usage of the term is intended to remind the world that COVID-19 originated in China.
As noted by Business Insider, Trump’s approach to China is a significant pivot from his previous comments on the country amid the spread of COVID-19. In late January, Trump expressed appreciation for China’s efforts and its transparency in dealing with the virus.
“In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!” he tweeted.
Per CNBC, Trump is now taking aim at China’s purported failures in dealing with the pandemic.
“The world is paying a very big price for that they did,” he said during a Thursday press briefing, referring to the Chinese officials who reportedly did not share information about the virus outbreak as soon as possible.
According to Trump, proper early containment of COVID-19 in China could have stopped the virus from spreading to other parts of the world. When pressed on whether China would face repercussions for its handling of the outbreak, the president declined to comment.