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McCarthy lashes out at reporter for asking about Trump's racist phrase

The House minority leader was offended when asked if he thought the racist term ‘kung-flu’ was appropriate.

By Emily Singer - June 25, 2020
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy lashed out at a reporter on Thursday who asked whether the California Republican thought Donald Trump’s use of a racist term “kung-flu” was “an appropriate way to characterize the coronavirus.”

McCarthy exploded in outrage over the questions, saying in response, “Do you think that’s the most pressing issue you have about the coronavirus? … What I’m thinking about is why that is your most pressing issue as a question. When we’ve just seen a spike in coronavirus, you’re concerned about somebody and the way they name it.”

Trump’s use of the racist term for the coronavirus has sparked outrage, especially as many Asian Americans have found themselves the target of hate crimes and violence while Trump and Republicans continue to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on China.

At first, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway agreed it was not acceptable to use the term after a Chinese American CBS News reporter had said that a White House aide — whom she didn’t name — used the “kung-flu” term.

“Of course it’s wrong,” Conway said on March 18.

Since then, Trump himself has started using the term, and as such Conway and other White House staffers have excused the behavior.

“My reaction is that the president has made very clear he wants everybody to understand — and I think many Americans do understand — that the virus originated in China and had China been more transparent and honest with the United States and the world, we wouldn’t have all the death and destruction that unfortunately we’ve suffered and that’s important, continue to be important,” Conway said on Tuesday, reversing her past comment that using the term was “highly offensive” and “very hurtful.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also said on Monday that it’s not racist to use the term.

“The president does not believe it’s offensive to note that this virus came from China and to stand up for our U.S. military, who China’s making an active effort to completely defame, and that is unacceptable to the president,” McEnany said.

McCarthy on Thursday wouldn’t say whether he thought the racist term was racist. Instead, he appeared angry that he had to answer for Trump’s use of the racist term at all.

“I think we should all focus, learn more about this disease, and stop this virus,” McCarthy said. “But every time I’ve come here, you’ve always had those type of questions. It’s interesting to me, if that’s what your viewers care most about.”

However, polls show voters do care about racism, with Trump’s poll numbers sinking thanks in part to Trump’s sowing of racial division.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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