Trump Stormed Off After a Racist Confrontation With a Female Reporter. Now He’s Declaring Conspiracy.

Oliver Contreras/ZUMA

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

President Trump’s abrupt exit from a White House news conference Monday afternoon felt instantly familiar. It was, after all, hardly the first time he had gone after a female reporter. Nor was it Trump’s first go at targeting a woman of color with racist rhetoric.

The president seemed set off by a question from CBS reporter Weijia Jiang—”Why are you saying that to me, especially?”—that she lodged seconds after Trump suggested Jiang, an Asian American, ask China about his compulsion to frame coronavirus tests as some kind of global competition.

“I’m saying that to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that,” Trump shot back.

But his grim facial expression—and subsequent refusal to take another question from Jiang’s White House press corps colleague, CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins—appeared to belie that very explanation. For just a few moments, Trump seemed to recognize that he had, once again, done an oopsie dog whistle.

Still, Trump couldn’t let a very public tantrum be the last word. Hours after walking out of the news conference, he dashed off to his mental safe space and declared conspiracy:

By the next morning, Trump was retweeting praise for his behavior, and claiming, without evidence, that Asian Americans shared his fury with China’s actions in the coronavirus pandemic. 

This whole timeline reads like a nightmare, but we shouldn’t ignore the president baselessly accusing female reporters of taking part in a political plot to tank his reelection after getting called out for racism. Trump’s meltdown came at the same time he relaunched a conspiracy-fueled campaign claiming Barack Obama has committed “the biggest political crime in American history,” a wildly absurd accusation that came after Trump reportedly was angered at the former president calling his coronavirus response “an absolute chaotic nightmare” during a private phone call. Taken together, the attacks capture our thin-skinned president turning back to the greatest hits of his political career—racism, misogyny, conspiracy theories—to distract attention and responsibility from a public health crisis that crossed 80,000 deaths over the weekend. 

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate