Donald Trump is coming under fire after snapping at black White House reporter Yamiche Alcindor in a press event on Sunday, with critics seeing racial undertones in the president’s admonishment for “you people” to be more positive when addressing him.
The spat happened during Trump’s daily press event, when the PBS News reporter asked the president about statements he made over the course of the previous few days questioning whether states really needed the number of ventilators they had requested. Though Trump had repeatedly made the claim, including during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, he denied to Alcindor that he had said it and admonished the reporter for her tone.
Trump personally insulted Alcindor, insinuating that she had been demoted to a lesser news outlet after having worked for the New York Times, and called on her to be more positive when addressing him.
“Why don’t you people act… why don’t you act in a little more positive,” Trump said.
The incident drew immediate viral interest, with many sharing video of the exchange on Twitter. Alcindor’s name also shot to the top of trending topics on Sunday evening.
Many critics took issue with both the tone that Trump used and the term “you people,” which has historically had a negative racial connotation when addressing people of color. Though Trump’s statement appeared to be aimed at members of the press he believed were not treating him fairly or taking an appropriate tone while addressing him, critics have noted that the president has been known to be especially harsh with women reporters of color.
As Politico noted back in 2018, many journalists and media groups have spoken out against the way Trump has treated black reporters compared to their white counterparts, with many noting he has been particularly harsh to Alcindor.
“While the president insults many journalists, these critics say his barbs targeting women and people of color feel especially sharp, and hit at the reporter’s basic intelligence and competence as a person,” the report noted. “It’s a tone that black reporters and scholars of African-American history say particularly stings, given that African-Americans journalists were not allowed into the White House until 1947 — and that the White House press corps remains overwhelmingly white to this day.”
Many critics immediately seized on Trump’s tone and wording in his attack on Alcindor.
— brittany packnett cunningham is staying inside! (@MsPackyetti) March 29, 2020
One other point. Aside from the "you people," he also said Yamiche's question was "threatening." Again, for some of us melanin-enhanced out here, that has a coded sense toward it.
— Robert A George (@RobGeorge) March 29, 2020
Trump just called Yamiche Alcindor “you people” y’all are getting close to hearing the N-word like we did on ‘Apprentice’ @realDonaldTrump
— NoelCaslerComedy (@CaslerNoel) March 29, 2020
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) March 29, 2020
After Alcindor’s question, Trump cut her off and did not allow a second question that she also tried to ask. Afterward, Trump called on CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond, who handed the microphone back to Alcindor so she could complete her question.