- White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended on Wednesday President Donald Trump’s use of the racist term “kung flu” to describe the new coronavirus.
- In March, Conway said the term was “highly offensive” after CBS journalist Weijia Jiang accused a White House official of using the term.
- But Trump has accepted the term recently, using it at protests in Oklahoma and Phoenix on Saturday and Tuesday.
- At a press conference Wednesday, Conway did not repeat the term but did not criticize it, saying it was important for Americans to know that Trump blamed China for the pandemic.
- “As the president says, he also says that this virus came from China. China is responsible,” he said.
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Kellyanne Conway has rejected her criticism that the term “kung flu” is offensive in defending President Donald Trump’s use of it and at the same time blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 18, the president’s adviser told CBS journalist Weijia Jiang that the term “kung flu” was “very offensive” after Jiang tweeted that a White House official, whom he did not name, used the term to describe the novel. coronavirus in its presence.
At the time, Conway said the term was “hurtful” and pointed to her husband’s Filipino ancestry.
But at a press conference on Wednesday, Conway defended Trump’s use of the term, which was met with cheers at protests both Saturday and Tuesday.
Conway said labeling the coronavirus “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” helped Americans see that the president blamed China for the pandemic.
The justification echoed that of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who on Monday insisted that Trump was simply “returning responsibility to China.”
On Wednesday, NBC News reporter Monica Alba asked Conway what she thought of the term, now that she had entered the president’s lexicon.
“The president has made it very clear that he wants everyone to understand … that the virus originated in China,” Conway replied.
Conway then changed the subject to condemn Jiang, who had just arrived at the press conference, for failing to identify the official who he reportedly used to call in March.
“I still invite you here to tell us who said that,” said Conway.
“And I think that would be a very important revelation to us. That is not a source for you to protect her. She is someone who shouldn’t have said that, and you’re claiming that she said that, and we still don’t know who it was.”
Jiang then asked Conway if he would tell Trump that the term was offensive.
“I speak to the president daily on many different topics. We don’t always agree on everything, and that’s why I work here,” said Conway.
Conway reiterated that “it is incredibly important” that the president “does not allow China to escape responsibility here.”
“As the president says, he also says that this virus came from China. China is responsible,” he said.
“I asked him to guide me through logic, as the phrase ‘kung flu’ does not refer to a place,” Jiang said on Twitter after the conference ended.
Conway ended up accusing Jiang of missing his chance to solve the problem.
“You should have showed up 100 days ago. You lacked the courage to tell everyone who told you that,” he said.
Trump’s use of the term comes as Asian Americans continue to face attacks from people who blame them for the coronavirus outbreak.
Prominent Asian Americans, including Rep. Ted Lieu, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, and actor George Takei, have condemned Trump for using it.