Trump and other Republicans have called the new coronavirus the 'Chinese virus,' and a White House staffer reportedly called it 'kung-flu.'
From a March 18 press availability at the White House:
REPORTER: Do you think that using the phrase "Chinese virus" is ...
KELLYANNE CONWAY: I think what the president is saying is that's where it started, but the president's also – I mean, I don't know how much more transparent and active the president, the vice president's task force could be.
They're every day — yesterday for 90 minutes on the COVID-19 coronavirus, and I think what's most important, I mean, frankly, I won't tell you how to do your jobs, but I think that you're a great resource to the country right now in giving them the information they need to slow the spread.
You'll report what you want, you'll say what you want, you'll do what you want. But ...
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS: But there are some staffers calling it the "kung-flu virus."
CONWAY: I'd like to know who they are. But hold on, you can't just say that and not name them. Tell us who it was. Come up here and tell us who it was. I'd like to know, because I'll go inside —
ALCINDOR: So even if those staffers are watching you now, what is your message to those staffers?
CONWAY: Excuse me, excuse me — that's been alleged. No, Yamiche, excuse me —
ALCINDOR: So is that wrong —
CONWAY: Yamiche, I'm not dealing in hypotheticals. Of course it's wrong. But you can't just make an accusation and not tell us who it is. Who is it? Come and tell us.
ALCINDOR: But you're saying of course it's wrong. You're saying of course it's wrong, correct?
CONWAY:Yamiche, if you want to argue, I'm going to argue about standing away from each other and washing our hands and everything. Tell us who it is.
ALCINDOR: But just to be clear, you're telling those staffers of course it's wrong to use the words "kung-flu"?
CONWAY: Weijia, who was it? Tell us. I think we ought —
WEIJIA JIANG, CBS News: I think you understand how these conversations go ...
CONWAY: No, I don't know, I don't know how these conversations go. And that's highly offensive, so you should tell us all who it is. I'd like to know who it is.
I'm not going to engage in hypotheticals.
I'm married to an Asian. I mean, I wouldn't engage in a hypothetical — my kids are, partly. Yes, I'm married to an Asian American. My kids are 25% Filipino.
REPORTER: Oh, I'm sorry. Actually, I didn't know that.
CONWAY: You're all so obsessed, I thought you knew.
ALCINDOR: But you're saying that using that term is wrong.
CONWAY: Of course it is. But who is it, Yamiche? Who is it?
Now you're engaged in — we're trying to tell, I'm trying to be here to help you help America understand how to slow the spread, and you're shouting at me in a way about something that somebody allegedly said to somebody else, and I'm asking, who was it? Why don't we go to the source — I certainly didn't say it, I don't believe it.
So why don't we go to the source and tell them that's very hurtful and nonhelpful for what we're all trying to do?
And pardon me if I've been mistaken that you all are trying to inform America as to what's going on. We're really pleased that your networks and your cable stations and your radio affiliates are all helping us to inform America by donating significant space on your networks to these public service announcements that we've been recording with health professionals and they're starting. I think they're running on your networks starting today or definitely this week.
JIANG: But can you say at least that this is a policy from the White House to say to its staff, "Do not call it that?"
REPORTER: Have you ever heard someone say that?
CONWAY: I have never heard that. The only time I ever even heard that or read that is when you said it yesterday. That's the only time I've ever heard or read it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.