President Trump challenged a journalist on Wednesday after she accused an unnamed White House staffer of describing the coronavirus as the “Kung flu.”
PBS Newshour reporter Yamiche Alcindor told Mr. Trump that “at least one White House official” had used the term, and asked him if it was wrong.
“I wonder who said that,” the president replied evenly. “Do you know who said that?”
“I’m not sure the person’s name,” Ms. Alcindor answered.
“Say the term again,” Mr. Trump demanded.
“A person at the White House used the term ‘Kung flu,’” she repeated.
“Kung flu?” Mr. Trump asked.
“Kung flu,” she said. “Do you think the term is wrong? And do you think using the term ‘Chinese virus’ puts Asian Americans at risk, that people will target them?”
“No, not at all,” the president said, addressing her second question. “I think they probably would agree with it 100%. It comes from China. There’s nothing not to agree [with].”
Mr. Trump then turned to the assembled reporters and said, “Okay, how about last question?”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway chided reporters who asked her about an anonymous official allegedly using the term “Kung flu.”
“Excuse me!” Mrs. Conway said. “Of course it’s wrong. But you can’t just make an accusation and not tell us who it is.”
A Trump campaign official, Andrew Clark, tweeted after the briefing that he “cannot stress enough how tone deaf these questions sound to literally anyone outside the press briefing room.”