President Trump's press secretary defends him after 'Kung Flu' comment branded racist

22 June 2020, 20:20

The president used the phrase "kung flu" during a rally in Tulsa
The president used the phrase "kung flu" during a rally in Tulsa. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Donald Trump's press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has defended the president after he branded coronavirus "kung flu" at a rally in Tulsa on Saturday.

At his first rally since the pandemic started, the president said: “It has more names than any disease in history. I can name kung flu. I can name 19 different versions of names."

The comment was met with cheers from the crowd.

Trump has repeatedly tried to term Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus”.

When asked by a CNN journalist about the president's use of the phrase "kung flu", Mc McEnany said: "The media and your network (CNN) specifically have repeatedly used the term 'China virus' and 'Wuhan virus' and then gone on to deride the president as using a term that they themselves have never used."

Doubling down on her attack, the press secretary said: "We can go through CNN's history. On February 9 you guys talked about the 'Wuhan virus', on January 23 you guys talked about the 'Wuhan virus', on January 22 the 'Wuhan virus'. I can write it all out for you."

The journalist replied: "He called it 'Kung Flu' though. That is not the same thing as calling it the Wuhan coronavirus.

When confronted by a second journalist about his use of "racist phrases" like "kung flu", Ms McEnany replied: "The president doesn't use racist phrases.

"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 and ridiculously blame the coronavirus on American soldiers.

"This is what China is trying to do, and what president Trump is saying is 'no China, I will label this virus for its place of origin.'"

The Trump administration's coronavirus response has been widely criticised. More that 100,000 Americans have died, with more than two million infected.

The Covid-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, China, late last year and has since spread around the world, killing tens of thousands of people.

The president failed to fill the 19,000 seat arena
The president failed to fill the 19,000 seat arena. Picture: PA

Donald Trump failed to fill a 19,000-capacity arena in the Republican stronghold of Oklahoma at the weekend, raising fresh doubts about his chances of winning re-election.

When asked about how the president would respond to Asian-Americans who are offended and deeply concerned that this phrase will be used for further discrimination, she replied: "The president has said very clearly that it is important for us to protect our asian community in the US and all around the world.

"They are amazing people and the spreading fo the virus is not their fault in any way shape or form.

"So it's not a discussion about asian-Americans, who the president values as citizens of this great country, it is about the government of China for letting this virus get here.

"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.

Ms Mcenany was also questioned over Donald Trump's assertion that Tthe US should, “slow the testing down’ ” because as more tests are conducted, more infections are discovered.

He described testing for the virus as a “double-edged sword” because it led to the identification of more cases.

He asserted that the US has "now tested 25 million people, far more than other countries."

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people, you’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down,” he said.

Ms Mcenany defended his actions, stating: "It was a comment that he made in jest, especially in reference ot the media coverage in pointing out the fact that the media never acknowledges that we have more cases because when you test more people you find more cases.

When asked if it is appropriate to joke about something as serious as coronavirus, she said: "He was not joking about coronavirus, he was joking about the media and their failure to understand the fact that when you test more you also find more cases.