White House counselor Kellyanne Conway flip-flopped on her previous position that the use of the racist term “Kung Flu” is “highly offensive,” defending President Donald Trump’s use of it on Wednesday while bizarrely attacking an Asian-American reporter for not having the “courage” to out a White House official who said the phrase months ago.
During a White House driveway gaggle with reporters on Wednesday morning, Conway was immediately confronted by NBC News reporter Monica Alba over the president’s recent habit of tossing out the phrase and Conway’s March denouncement of the term, which the Trump adviser called “wrong” while noting she is “married to an Asian.”
Conway, meanwhile, turned the question back around on the press corps, seemingly placing the blame on CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang, who reported in March that a White House official referred to the novel coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” to her face.
“I also asked Weijia to reveal to us who said it, I think that would have gone a long way,” Conway said to Alba before saying the reporter should confront Jiang.
Alba, however, pressed forward and asked Conway if she would react to Trump’s repeated use of the loaded term, prompting the presidential aide to claim that Trump was merely making it “very clear” that the virus originated in China. Conway then pressed Jiang to reveal her source.
“I still invite you up here to tell us who said that,” Conway taunted the reporter. “And I think that that would be a very important revelation for us. That’s not a source for you to protect. That’s somebody who shouldn’t have said that, and you’re claiming did say that, and we still don’t know who that was.”
While Conway accused her of “changing the subject,” Jiang noted that at the time Conway said the phrase was “hurtful,” asking the Trump official if she was going to tell that to the president now.
“I speak to the president daily on many different topics,” Conway replied, causing Jiang to ask again if she’d tell Trump his use of “Kung Flu” is offensive.
“We don’t always agree on everything, and that’s why I work here,” the veteran pollster shot back before pivoting to another subject.
Moments later, however, Conway circled back to the topic, defending the president by saying “it’s incredibly important” for Trump to “not let China escape responsibility here.” Jiang wondered aloud if Conway could explain the “logic” on how Kung Flu accomplishes that as it doesn’t refer to a particular place.
“How do you know, excuse me, how do you know the way people, how do you know that people aren’t anticipating that or are not connecting that?” Conway exclaimed, her voice rising. “You don’t know that! Excuse me, while the president is saying it, he’s also saying this virus came from China. China is responsible!”
Interestingly, Conway refused to actually use the phrase, instead saying that Trump has “said it’s called many different things,” such as “the Wuhan virus, the Chinese virus, and then he used another term.”
As Jiang continued to press her on Trump’s embrace of the racist term, Conway eventually placed the blame squarely on the CBS reporter’s shoulders.
“You should have come forward a hundred days ago when you had the chance. You lost your opportunity, you lacked the courage to tell everybody who said that to you,” Conway fumed. “You like to stoke this instead of solving it. I’m here to solve things not stoke them. You did the opposite on this issue.”
Conway flailing on this issue comes on the heels of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany struggling to fend off questions about the president using the racist term. Earlier this week, McEnany insisted the president was just trying to point out where the virus came from while blaming the media for “trying to play games with the terminology.”