President Trump’s attempt to have a “normal” exchange Monday with regular foil Jim Acosta of CNN over the coronavirus pandemic went downhill fast.
“Let’s give it a shot,” Mr. Trump said while looking at the network’s chief White House correspondent at the daily coronavirus press conference, in the Rose Garden.
“‘It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away,’” said Mr. Acosta, citing snippets of Mr. Trump’s past comments on the contagion. “What do you say to Americans who believe that you’ve got this wrong?”
“Here we go,” Mr. Trump said seconds into Mr. Acosta’s statements.
“It’s people like you and CNN that say things like that, that it’s why people just don’t want to listen to CNN any more,” Mr. Trump said. “You can ask a normal question. The statements I made are — I want to keep the country calm. I don’t want panic in the country. I could cause panic much better than even you. I would make you look like a minor league player. But, you know what? I don’t want to do that. I want to have our country to be calm and strong and fight and win. And it will go away.”
Critics of the White House have said that Mr. Trump did not take the virus seriously enough while it was wreaking havoc in Wuhan, China.
The White House insists that its early travel ban on China, among dozens of other measures, prove otherwise.
“I’m very proud,” Mr. Trump said of the way his administration has brought public and private sector leaders together to mitigate the effects of the virus. “It’s almost a miracle, and it is, the way it’s all come to together. And instead of asking a nasty, snarky question like that, you should ask a real question.”