CBS reporter got the response her ‘question’ deserved
The mainstream media’s latest heroine/victim is CBS reporter Weijia Jiang, who got into a tussle with President Trump at his May 11 coronavirus briefing. Jiang, of Chinese descent, asked Trump an argumentative question, got an argumentative response, and assumed that the response was personal based upon her race rather than what she said. The case is a microcosm of what’s wrong with the media, in terms of pure bias, basic competence, and professionalism.
Jiang emigrated with her parents from China at the age of two and has followed a path typical of the media elite. Raised in beautiful West Virginia, she attended William and Mary, receiving a bachelor’s degree (philosophy and chemistry) in 2005, and got a graduate degree journalism from Syracuse University in 2006. An attractive, camera-ready young woman, she moved into broadcast journalism and quickly advanced up the ranks, joining CBS in 2015, covering Trump since 2016.
The May 11 incident was not the first time Jiang got into a squabble with Trump at a briefing. On April 3, she had the following exchange with the president (Speaker 11 is Jiang):
Speaker 11: Thank you. Yesterday Jared Kushner said the notion of the federal stockpile was, it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use. What did he mean by our?
Donald Trump: What are you asking?
Speaker 11: Even the fact that taxpayers from every state pays [sic] for it.
Donald Trump: What’s that? A got you? I got you. You used the word our.
Speaker 11: No, it’s not a got you.
Donald Trump: Our, you know what our means? United States of America. That’s what it means.
The exchange went on longer. An exasperated Trump finally noted that “it’s such a basic, simple question, and you try to make it sound so bad.” Finally, he told Jiang, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
Trump was right. The question was bad. It attempts to be a “gotcha” question, but in reality, it makes no sense. Trump was rightly confused as to what Jiang was asking, and she never clarified it. To make this plainer, just after his exchange with Jiang, he took another question on the topic:
Speaker 12: Well, just to follow up on that, when we have the federal stockpile, I mean, isn’t that designed to be able to distribute to the states if needed?”
Trump answered that question at length and in detail, because it was a legitimate question, clearly stated, unlike Jiang’s muddled attempt at a rhetorical trap.
The May 11 encounter was more of the same, with Jiang posing an even worse question:
Q [Jiang]: Thank you, Mr. President. You said many times that the U.S. is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q [Jiang]: Why does that matter? Why is this a global competition to you if, every day, Americans are still losing their lives and we’re still seeing more cases every day?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world. And maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me; ask China that question, okay? When you ask them that question, you may get a very unusual answer.
Jiang took immediate “offense” to the response, assuming that Trump had raised the subject of China as a “racist” attack on her personally. And of course, this is the tack the media have followed in the days since.
Trump frequently raises Chinese responsibility for the pandemic, so there was nothing unusual when he did it with Jiang. That’s true, but even more to the point, Jiang directly invited his response in this case.
Jiang began with a statement, presumably to set up a question, noting Trump’s claim that U.S. testing for COVID-19 is better than other nations. But what followed was not a question — rather, it was a rhetorical argument.
“Why does that matter?” apparently referred to Trump’s claim. That question has an answer, but Jiang didn’t let Trump get to it. Instead, she followed it with an emotional and argumentative declaration. Essentially, she told Trump: “I don’t care that we are doing better than other countries in testing when people are still dying and people are still getting sick, and it’s your fault!”
Trump replied accordingly. To the emotional but true accusation that people in America are still getting sick and dying, and the false implication that it’s his fault, he put the blame where it belongs, on China. The epidemic began in China, probably at a Chinese bio-lab. The Chinese lied about and mishandled the outbreak, and they ensured its spread worldwide by allowing international travel out of Wuhan after they knew that it was spreading person to person.
Jiang got the response her statement deserved. That she happens to be of Chinese descent is utterly irrelevant. That she is a lousy reporter who can’t seem to ask a clear, relevant, non-argumentative question, and is being held up as a paragon of virtue for it, is an indictment of the mainstream media.