There is no greater display of fragile masculinity than our president storming out a press conference because too many women spoke

People asked what the harm would be in electing a giant man-baby to the highest office in the land. On Monday, we got our answer: 80,000 dead and a leader who can't handle taking questions from two women

Danielle Campoamor
New York
Tuesday 12 May 2020 18:08 BST
Donald Trump walks out of press conference after altercation with female reporters

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


He says he’s too “manly” to wear a mask. He claims he could beat up Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president and his political rival. He likes to retweet pictures of his head photoshopped on the cut body of Sylvester Stallone. He swears he’s a “very stable genius.” But when questioned by women reporters — especially women reporters of color — President Donald Trump does what any misogynistic man-baby would do when faced with an ounce of opposition from the very people he spends so much time, energy, and social media space attacking: run away.

On Monday evening, during one of the president’s many coronavirus press conferences that have morphed into pseudo-campaign rallies, CBS News White House Correspondent Weijia Jiang asked Trump a simple question: When it comes to the president claiming, repeatedly, that the US is doing “far better than any other country” in regards to Covid-19 testing, “Why does that matter? Why is this a global competition with you, if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?”

Trump responded by saying, “Well they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world, and maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, OK?”

After months of inaction that could have prevented more than 80,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States, Trump turned on China — a country he’d actually just praised as many as 15 times for their Covid-19 response — in an attempt to distract from his failings. The president has called Covid-19 the “Chinese virus,” a White House official is reported to have called it the “Kung Flu,” and, as a result of Trump and his administration’s racist scapegoating, violence against Asian Americans is on the rise.

Jiang is a Chinese American raised in West Virginia. Unlike some of her male colleagues, she pushed back on Trump’s non-response, asking, “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?” Trump’s defense? “I’m not saying it specifically to anybody. I’m saying it to anybody who asks a nasty question like that.”

The president then attempted to move on, talking over Jiang by calling on another White House reporter. CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins stepped up to the mic, but Trump no longer wanted to hear from her, either.

“But you called on me,” Collins said, after attempting to ask two questions.

“I did, but you didn’t respond,” Trump replied.

“I just wanted to let my colleague finish,” Collins attempted to explain.

And that’s when the most powerful man in the world — a man who at one time said “real power” is “fear” — skulked away from the podium adorned with the presidential seal, and promptly ended his press conference.

Trump’s most recent display of fragile masculinity is, of course, nothing new: he has shown disrespect and utter disdain for any female reporter who dare question him. PBS Newshour reporter Yamiche Alcindor has been the target of the president’s ire on more than one occasion — he’s called her questions “nasty,” told her to “be nice; don’t be threatening, be nice,” and attacked her career trajectory, saying, “You didn’t hear me, that’s why you used for The Times and now you work for somebody else.”

The president has also attacked Abby Phillip, a White House Correspondent for CNN, calling her questions “stupid.” He has verbally berated April Ryan, White House Correspondent and Washington, DC Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks, calling her a “loser”; during one press conference, he told her simply to “sit down.”

Of course, it’s not just women journalists who Trump has assailed. Jim Acosta, Chief White House Correspondent for CNN, has been a target of Trump’s since he took office, at one point losing his White House press credentials. In fact, Trump has sent over 1,300 tweets attacking news organizations, has labeled the free press the “enemy of the people” and has said, repeatedly, that the “fake news media” is “corrupt.”

But it is women reporters — especially women reporters who aren’t white, blonde, and working for AON — that get the worst of the president’s contempt. As someone with a history of attacking women — be it high-profile actresses who speak out against him, black congresswomen and congresswomen of color, and the women he used to pay to keep quiet about his extramarital affairs — it should come as no surprise that it is the women reporters that are capable of crawling under the president’s skin most frequently, and by simply doing their jobs. His shameless displays of hyper-masculinity are nothing more than a farce, a desperate attempt to hide his inadequacies, of which he is painfully aware.

But the president’s misogyny, which is so deeply entangled in his racism, has not only fueled these public displays of disrespect towards women reporters — it has informed, and will continue to inform, his policies. Whether the president is appointing Supreme Court judges to overturn Roe v Wade, defunding Planned Parenthood, reenacting the Global Gag Rule, or is cutting funding to programs like SNAP, 45 per cent of which are used by parents to feed their children, his press conference temper tantrums are not a bug, but a feature; a snapshot of what drives this president to do the most harm to the most vulnerable.

So when blatant misogynists and sexual assault apologists asked, in 2016, what the harm would be in electing a giant man-baby to the highest office in the land, we, once again, got our answer on Monday evening: when over 80,000 Americans have lost their lives to a public health crisis that was preventable had we put a competent, compassionate person in the White House, the president couldn’t handle taking questions by two women. Because the president can’t handle much of anything at all.

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