Trump accuses press of ‘siding with China’ amid pandemic

President Trump on Thursday accused media outlets of “siding with China” and decried their coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in a remarkable exchange with a right-wing news organization.
“I think they do. 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,” Trump said during a White House briefing on the coronavirus in response to a question from One America News (OAN).

“So why they’re doing this, you’ll have to ask them,” he added. “If we had an honest media in this country our country would be an even greater place.” 

The president spoke to reporters for roughly an hour during a briefing on the virus. The focus was intended to be on efforts to fast-track antiviral treatments and therapeutics for those suffering from the novel coronavirus.

But remarks about those efforts, as well as remedies for a slumping economy and the push to increase testing capacity, were overshadowed by Trump’s exchange with OAN, which tends to be favorable to the president.
“Thank you very much,” Trump said as he called on the outlet. “They treat me very nicely.”
OAN’s Chanel Rion then claimed that major media outlets who “work right here at the White House” are “consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals and Latin gangs and cartels.”
Rion — who traveled with Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine last year in his effort to dig up damaging information on Joe Biden — did not cite specifics, but she opened her commentary by asking Trump if he felt the term “Chinese food” was racist, a swipe at other journalists who have asked in recent days whether Trump’s describing the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” was offensive or enabled discrimination against Asian Americans.
“It amazes me when i read the things that I read,” Trump said, launching into a lengthy diatribe against The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other major media groups that he took questions from just moments earlier. Those same outlets had reporters expelled from China this week as the country cracks down on critical coverage.

He accused the press of inaccurately reporting on chaos within the administration, even as top administration officials have had their roles in combating the virus reshuffled and the White House press shop has not pushed back on those reports.

“I hope I came up with the term, but it’s fake news,” Trump said. “It’s more than fake news, it’s corrupt news.”
“Someday, hopefully in five years, I won’t be here and that’ll be fine,” he continued. “I will have done a great job. Because I don’t think anyone’s done as much in three-and-a-half years as I’ve done.”

The White House is relying on many of the same media organizations Trump attacked on Thursday to get out critical information about the virus. The administration announced Wednesday a partnership with NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and ABC/Walt Disney Television to broadcast public service announcements about how to slow the spread of the disease.

Trump — who has earned praise in recent days for taking a more serious tone toward the virus — frequently veered off topic on Thursday. He opened his remarks with an often rambling 20-minute statement in which he touted “Right to Try” legislation, boasted about the strength of the economy prior to the recent swoon and struggled to pronounce drug names as he laid out therapeutics in the works.

The president chided the press throughout the briefing, quipping at one point that “75 percent” of journalists should leave the room to improve social distancing.

More than 10,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and the disease has killed roughly 150 people in the U.S. as of Thursday morning.

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