EXCLUSIVE: Fox News learned that two federal Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals during the Obama administration used the term “Kung flu” in official materials, along with images of a monkey in a karate suit and a ninja in a flu mask.
President Trump’s use of the term “Kung flu” to refer to the coronavirus has generated accusations of racism and insensitivity, but the use of the term under the Obama administration has not been denounced.
In 2015, the official Tennessee Valley Healthcare System website urged patients to “Become a Kung Flu Fighter! Get Your Flu Shot!” The website has been removed, but a file archive on the Internet retained a copy of it.
The text was accompanied by an image of a ninja with a mask in a flying kick pose in the air.
The VA further urged visitors to “Click here to print the Kung Flu Fighter poster!”
Also in 2015, the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center sent an email to patients saying, “Kung Flu: Get rid of it before I knock you unconscious!”
The text is accompanied by a cartoon monkey in a karate suit who apparently kicks a meaningless virus molecule.
A copy of that email remains online.
It was unclear why hospitals were referring to the “Kung Flu”, other than making a humorous attempt. Unlike now, the term was not used during a pandemic when an outbreak began in China, as with COVID-19.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany discussed the term “Kung flu” on Monday with journalists, stating that the nickname should link COVID-19 to its place of origin.
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Trump referred to the coronavirus as “Kung flu” on Saturday night during his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. McEnany was asked about the phrase several times during Monday’s briefing.
Weijia Jiang, a critic of Trump, first brought up the issue, asking why the president uses “racist” terms like “Kung flu.” Jiang previously claimed that a White House official had used the term “Kung flu,” but has declined to name the official without explaining why.
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“The president does not do it, what he does do is point out the fact that the origin of the virus is China. It’s fair to point out, as China ridiculously attempts to rewrite history … ridiculously blame the coronavirus on American soldiers, “said McEnany.” This is what China is trying to do and what President Trump says: ‘No, China I will label this virus as its place of origin. ‘”
Jiang backed down, repeating that he feels the phrase is “racist,” but McEnany replied again that Trump is simply “linking him to his place of origin” and dismissed concerns that the phrase will lead to discrimination against Asian Americans.
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“The President has said very clearly: ‘It is important that we fully protect our Asian community in the United States and around the world. They are amazing people and the spread of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape or form, ‘”McEnany said.
McEnany later said that the mainstream media condemned Trump for calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan Virus” and the “Chinese Virus” despite the press using those terms.
“It is a separate category, Kayleigh. The ‘Kung flu’ is extremely offensive to many people in the Asian-American community, “said Jiang.
“To be clear, I think the media is trying to play with the terminology of this virus … the focus should be on the fact that China let its country out,” McEnany said, adding that CNN called it the “Virus Wuhan “in January.
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CNN’s Kaitlan Collins then weighed in, saying “the media has never called it the ‘Kung Flu’.”
“Calling it a Chinese coronavirus and ‘Kung flu’ are very different things,” Collins said.
“The media, and their network specifically, have repeatedly used the terms ‘China Virus’ and ‘Wuhan Virus’, and then made fun of the President,” McEnany replied.
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Collins repeated that the media has not used the term “Kung flu,” but McEnany attempted to pass on to the next journalist.
McEnany then answered questions on a variety of other topics, but reporters continued to ask about the “Kung Flu,” and she continued to respond, noting that the coronavirus originated in China.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.