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President Donald Trump called an NBC News journalist a “terrible reporter” for asking a legitimate question about what the president would say to Americans feeling scared about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of at least 194 people in the country.
“What do you say to Americans who are scared?” NBC News’ Peter Alexander asked on Friday. “There’ll be 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions — as you witnessed — who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans watching you right now who are scared?”
“I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” Trump responded. “I think that’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism, and the same with NBC. … That’s really bad reporting, and you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.”
Alexander addressed the exchange shortly after, saying on the network, “As you witnessed, Mike Pence later in that same interview answered that, in that same conversation, the same question, when I asked him what he says to Americans who are scared, he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, be vigilant.’ …. In TV terms, we call this a softball. I was trying to provide the president an opportunity to reassure the millions of Americans, members of my own family, my neighbors in my community, and plenty of people sitting at home right now, this was his opportunity to do that, to provide a sort of positive or uplifting message. Instead, you saw the president’s answer to that question right now.”
Meanwhile, the president has made a number of false or misleading statements to the American public about the coronavirus and has insisted on calling it the “Chinese virus,” despite cautioning from the World Health Organization to avoid using terminology that associates the virus with a specific race or ethnicity.
“The pandemic of influenza in 2009 originated in North America and we didn’t call it the North American flu, so it’s very important that we have the same approach when it comes to other viruses,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a press conference on Wednesday. “This is a time for solidarity, this is a time for facts, this is a time to move forward together, to fight this virus together. There is no blame in this.”
This is the second time that the president has accused a reporter of asking a “nasty question” instead of directly answering the question. Last week, PBS Newshour’s Yamiche Alcindor asked Trump about his decision in 2018 to shut down the National Security Council’s Pandemic Response Unit — a team that would have been critical now amid the coronavirus pandemic. But Trump deflected responsibility and said Alexander asked a “nasty question.”
Alcindor also defended Alexander on Twitter, writing that the NBC News reporter had “asked a relevant and important question.”
Watch the interaction below:
Trump deflects, "I say that you're a terrible reporter." pic.twitter.com/y9b1qMqFw7
— MTV NEWS (@MTVNEWS) March 20, 2020
Read original story Trump Lashes Out at NBC News’ Peter Alexander Over Question About What to Tell ‘Scared Americans’ At TheWrap