On Friday, The Washington Post published an explosive report alleging that U.S. intelligence agencies have long been warning President Donald Trump about a potential coronavirus outbreak. According to the publication, the agencies were “issuing ominous, classified warnings” in the months of January and February, but both lawmakers and the president downplayed the threat of the virus.
On Saturday, during the daily coronavirus press briefing, Trump was asked about The Washington Post‘s reporting. Per The Hill, a journalist with One America News Network (OANN) posed a “loaded” question, prompting Trump to attack the publication.
“I think the Washington Post covers us very inaccurately,” he said. “I saw the story. I think it’s a disgrace, but it’s the Washington Post, and I guess we have to live with it. It’s a very inaccurate story.”
Trump shifted the blame to China, suggesting that the country should have warned the U.S. about the virus earlier. He also argued that his decision to restrict travel to China may have slowed down the spread of the virus in the U.S. However, the Trump administration created a task force in late February, a month after initial reports about the virus being present in the U.S.
“I wish China would have told us more about what was going on [in] China long prior to us reading about it, even though the news isn’t exactly disseminated,” Trump said, adding that the Chinese government has expelled American journalists.
“As you know, China kicked The Washington Post out, and they kicked The New York Times out,” he said.
As The Hill notes, it is being reported that the Chinese government has embarked on an effort to purge and censor critics, especially those who claim that the government is manipulating statistics related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump takes a loaded question from far-right OANN goading him into bashing the Washington Post and does so while also praising OANN pic.twitter.com/iTVQbCLrOL
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 21, 2020
Critics have argued that the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis is inadequate. Former Vice President Joe Biden — the candidate most likely to win the Democratic presidential nomination — argued during a recent press call that Trump is “behind the curve” in combating the virus.
According to Biden, the federal government should provide $100 billion for local governments to mobilize reserve corps, activate the Defense Production Act, ensure free coronavirus testing for all who need it, and use the Department of Defense to help manage the outbreak. The former vice president also said that he would “surge dollars” into the economy, in order to soften the blow of the looming crisis.
Both the Trump administration and Congress have proposed various fiscal stimulus measures.