White House responds to questions on Trump’s use of phrase ‘kung flu’

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday responded to questions about President Trump’s use of the phrase ‘kung flu’ to characterize the coronavirus.

Video Transcript

- Last July, President Trump declared himself the least racist person there is anywhere in the world. Why has he use racist phrases like the kung flu?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: The president doesn't. What the president does do is point to the fact that the origin of the virus is China. It's a fair thing to point out as China tries to ridiculously rewrite history, ridiculously blame the coronavirus on American soldiers. This is what China's trying to do. And what President Trump is saying, no, China. I will label this virus for its place of word.

- That's what he's saying by using the racist phrase kung flu?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: He is linking it to its place of origin.

- What does he have to say to Asian Americans who are deeply offended and worry that his use will lead to further attacks and discrimination?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: So the president has said very clearly it's important that we totally protect our Asian community in the US and all around the world. They're amazing people, and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form. They're working closely with us to get rid of it. We will prevail together. It's very important.

So it's not a discussion about Asian Americans who the president values and [INAUDIBLE] as citizens of this great country. It is an indictment of China for letting this virus get here.

And I would also point out that the media blames President Trump for using the terms China virus and Wuhan virus when they themselves have used these very terms. The "New York Times" called it the Chinese coronavirus; Reuters, the Chinese virus; CNN, the Chinese coronavirus on January 20; Washington Post, January 21, Chinese coronavirus. And I have more than a dozen other examples.

- This is a different category, Kayleigh.

- Kung flu is extremely offensive to many people in the Asian American community. To be clear, are you saying the White House does not believe it is racist?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: To be clear, I think the media is trying to play games with the terminology of this virus where the focus should be on the fact that China let this out of their country. The same phrase that the media roundly now condemns has been used by the media. I can go more examples. Wuhan virus CNN said on January 22. I mean, we can go on and on and on. So while the media wants to focus on nomenclature, the president's going to focus on action. Yes?

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