Andy Watson Week 21 2020

"We, the mere citizens, only get once vote."

Commentary

In a week that ultimately will go down in history as the one when Joe Biden was exposed for his role in “unmasking” Gen. Michael Flynn as part of the Obama administration’s effort to derail President Trump before he even took office, there was one other unmasking that deserves at least an asterisk.

I’m referring to the moment last Monday when CBS White House reporter Weijia Jiang removed her virus mask in a show of manufactured outrage that was intended to paint the president as a racist.

The scene had been set a minute earlier when Jiang asked Trump a loaded question at his briefing on coronavirus testing.

“You’ve said many times that the U.S. is doing far better than any other country when it comes to testing,” Jiang began. “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?”

OMG! Why does it matter! That’s easy — because the Fake News Media spends every second of every day (intentional exaggeration for rhetorical effect) saying the U.S. response to the virus (and Trump’s response in particular) is inadequate and costing lives.

The reason Trump emphasizes that the U.S. testing program exceeds that of any other country is because reporters like Jiang keep putting out fake stories that Americans are dying because they can’t get tested. Most recently they have drawn a false analogy between White House staffers being tested every day to protect the president and the lack of testing for average citizens going back to work.

Sorry, Weijia, but just because the president is protected doesn’t mean the rest of us are in paramount danger. Sure, coronavirus is potentially deadly. We all know that now, but we also have been thoroughly instructed in how to protect ourselves and others. Testing is available for those who need it, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs a test every day to go to work.

It presumably is no coincidence that the day after Jiang’s insulting question, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany pointed to the hypocrisy of the mainstream media regarding testing.

“The U.S. now leads the world in testing. For weeks, the media cited South Korea as being the gold standard for testing,” she said. “On March 13, the Washington Post headline was ‘South Korea is doing 10,000 coronavirus tests a day; the U.S. is struggling for even a small fraction of that.’ And here we are on May 11, with a Washington Post headline: ‘The administration keeps bragging that the U.S. testing now is better than South Korea’s was a month ago.’ So you can’t demand that we reach South Korea and say we are bragging when we do. ... Every state is better off than South Korea at this moment, and that is a very good thing.”

Intellectual consistency isn’t much valued in the press these days. Instead, Jiang’s “question” to the president was typical of that fake outrage driving so much of the mainstream media’s approach to White House coverage. Instead of seeking to elicit information that will benefit the public, they act as if they were the guardians of moral rectitude. Anyone who doesn’t toe their line will be subject to public shaming. That was obviously the intent of Jiang’s statement, but Trump rejected her premise outright and noted that not just Americans are dying from coronavirus, but “they’re losing their lives everywhere in the world.” He then turned the question around and suggested that the “global competition” that is costing American lives may have started with China.

“Maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, OK? When you ask them that question, you may get a very unusual answer.”

Of course, the most unusual answer from the Chinese Communist Party would be the truth. We won’t get that, but the president knows that overwhelming evidence points to the likelihood that China allowed the coronavirus to escape its national borders intentionally in order to ensure that China was not the only victim of its devastating human and economic toll.

If Jiang failed to understand the meaning of Trump’s somewhat cryptic response, she could have asked for elaboration. Instead, she doubled down on the fake outrage and asked the president, “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically -- that I should ask China?”

If there were any doubt what she meant, it evaporated as soon as Jiang showily removed her mask from her face as if to dramatically reveal that she is of Asian descent, something completely irrelevant to her question or to Trump’s answer.

The implicit charge contained in Jiang’s question was that Trump is a racist and would never have responded to anyone else’s question by pivoting to China. This reporter’s faux outrage was irritating, and of course it was immediately evident that the media would circle their wagons and hail Jiang as the next incarnation of Jim Acosta, as if the White House press corps needed another reporter preening with self-importance.

Naturally, the president shot back as he always does when he senses that he is being set up by a sniping reporter, whether a white man like Acosta or an Asian American woman like Jiang:

“I’m not saying it [ask China] specifically to anybody. I’m saying it to anybody that would ask a nasty question like that.”

As expected, the mainstream media was quick to throw acid. Moments after the press conference, CNN’s media apologist Brian Stelter told Wolf Blitzer: “It is racist to look at an Asian American White House correspondent and say, ‘Ask China.’” Yahoo News proclaimed: “Women Reporters Unite With Weijia Jiang Against Trump’s Racist & Sexist Media Attacks.” The next day, the Washington Post ran this headline in its Style section: “Trump’s ‘ask China’ response to CBS’s Weijia Jiang shocked the room — and was part of a pattern.”

Yep, it was part of a pattern, but let’s not be fooled into thinking it had anything to do with sexism or racism. President Trump talks about the dishonesty of China on a regular basis and has frequently complained about China’s role in exporting the virus from Wuhan to the rest of the world. If he were not to respond the same way in this case because Jiang is of Chinese background, then that would have been patronizing and dismissive, and yes, racist.

But that isn’t what happened.

Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His books — including “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake?” — are available from his Amazon author page. Visit him at HeartlandDiaryUSA.com to read his daily commentary or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter @HeartlandDiary.