Kellyanne Conway Defends Donald Trump’s Use Of ‘Kung Flu’

Conway had previously called the term 'highly offensive.'

Kellyanne Conway speaks to the press.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Conway had previously called the term 'highly offensive.'

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway responded to recent criticisms of President Donald Trump’s use of the phrase “kung flu” in reference to the coronavirus. Conway defended Tump’s use of the phrase by explaining that it was intended to highlight the virus’s origins in China and not meant to be racist, per Politico.

“My reaction is that the president has made very clear he wants everybody to understand, and I think many Americans do understand, that the virus originated in China. And had China been more transparent and honest with the United States and the world, we wouldn’t have all the death and destruction that unfortunately we’ve suffered.”

Reporters pressed Conway on her explanation and questioned why using a pun based on a martial art should specifically link to China. The counselor responded by questioning why the reporter didn’t expect Trump’s audience to make the connection.

“Excuse me, how do you know the way people, how do you know that people aren’t anticipating that or not connecting that? You don’t know that. While the president is saying it, he’s also saying this virus came from China.”

Conway added that the president has used other terms beyond the usual coronavirus or COVID-19 to describe the virus, specifically referencing the Wuhan virus and the Chinese virus. She also hinted that she may not agree with Trump’s use of the phrase, saying that she and the president talk on a daily basis and don’t always agree on everything.

Conway gave a much stronger response to the term in March, when a reporter told her that she had heard White House staffers were allegedly using the phrase. Conway said the term was “highly offensive” and demanded the reporter tell her what staffer had said it.

Trump had not referred to the coronavirus as “kung flu” publicly until this past Saturday, when he addressed a crowd during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The president would once again use the term during another campaign rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona. Trump was urged by the crowd in Phoenix to use the phrase, and they cheered loudly in approval once he said it.

While Trump is the only member of his administration to call COVID-19 “kung flu,” cabinet officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have received backlash for the use of “Wuhan virus,” a reference to the Chinese city where the virus was first recognized. Pompeo responded to criticism from the WHO and Asian-American advocacy groups, by saying his use of the term was to simply denote the geographic origin of the virus.