- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2020

President Trump let loose a rhetorical broadside on the media Thursday for repeated questions about his administration’s preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic.

The command in chief skewered a room full of reporters after NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked about coronavirus testing kits.

“Why was the United States not prepared?” she asked.

Mr. Trump countered that his administration was so far ahead of the rest of the world on the seriousness of the situation that he was labeled a racist for restricting flights to and from China.

“The only thing we weren’t prepared for was the media,” he said of a travel ban that was implemented in late January. “The media has not treated it fairly. I’ll tell you how prepared I was: I called for a ban for people coming in from China long before anybody.”

The president then singled out NBC News for its coverage before lambasting many of the reporters in the White House briefing room.

“It was your network, I believe they called me a racist because I did that,” Mr. Trump continued. “Many of the people in the room, they called me racist and other words because I did that because I went so early. So, when you say we weren’t prepared, had I let these tens-of-thousands of people come in from China a day, we would’ve had something right now that would have been you wouldn’t have recognized it compared to where we are. How many people have passed away? How many people have died as of this moment? You can multiply that by a factor of many, many, many.”

Mr. Trump’s comments came as reported U.S. cases of the virus closed in on 11,000.

Johns Hopkins University had chronicled 160 deaths in the U.S. due to the contagion.

“When you say I wasn’t prepared,” Mr. Trump continued. “I was the first one to do the ban. Now, other countries are following what I did but the media doesn’t acknowledge that. They know it’s true but they don’t want to write about it.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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