Coronavirus: Close-up photos reveal Trump editing 'Chinese Virus' into press conference notes

Donald Trump Jr doubles down on father's remarks, saying of media outlets: 'It’s like they all work for China'

John T. Bennett
Thursday 19 March 2020 21:21 GMT
Trump says media 'much nicer with social distancing' as he gives update on 'Chinese virus'

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


All presidents overrule their aides, and Donald Trump is doing just that on his public messaging about the Covid-19 outbreak.

A photograph posted on Thursday afternoon on Twitter by Jabin Botsford, a staff photographer for The Washington Post, showed the president's notes for his opening remarks during a Thursday White House press briefing on the virus, known as coronavirus.

Only Mr Trump had crossed out the "corona" part and written "Chinese" above it with the kind of thick black felt pen is known to use.

After remarking that a revised White House briefing room seating chart that features fewer reporters from fewer outlets to spread out reporters in an act of social distancing" is "so much nicer" than the more crowded arrangement, the president said, "but I shouldn't say that because you will get me now."

His critics might not have done so over that quip, but many will over what came next.

"Thank you all for being here, and we continue our relentless effort to defeat the 'Chinese virus,'" he said, referring to the bug with a term some have described as a racial slur.

In fact, Mr Trump bookended what has become his near-daily briefing about the virus outbreak with controversial statements about the Asian country where he and his top aides say coronavirus originated - and was covered up by Chinese leaders.

The second came at the conclusion of a lengthy back-and-forth with a reporter from far-right One America News Network that began with this question: "Do you consider the term Chinese food racist?" (The president said he doesn't.)

Then the reporter issued this broadside to the other journalists in the room: "But more than dishonest, they're siding with state propaganda overseas."

It prompted the president to go into full campaign rally mode by continuing his rant against major media outlets he had just called "dishonest" and "corrupt news."

"Well, I think that they do. I mean, they are siding with, they are siding with China, they are doing things that they shouldn't be doing," he said. "They're siding with many others. China is the least of it. So why, why they're doing this, you'll have to ask them. But if we had an honest media in this country, our country would be an even greater place."

Like father, like son.

Hours after the president made those remarks, his eldest son doubled down.

Donald Trump Jr responded to a NBC News report about Chinese officials worried about international travellers bringing the super bug back onto their soil by posting this on Twitter: "It's like they all work for China."

The oldest son of the president has developed his own following in conservative circles, appearing frequently on Fox News and even acting as a warm up act for his father at his signature campaign rallies that are now on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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