Trump Stormed Off After a Racist Confrontation With a Female Reporter. Now He’s Declaring Conspiracy.

Oliver Contreras/ZUMA

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President Trump’s abrupt exit from a White House news conference Monday afternoon felt instantly familiar. It was, after all, hardly the first time he had gone after a female reporter. Nor was it Trump’s first go at targeting a woman of color with racist rhetoric.

The president seemed set off by a question from CBS reporter Weijia Jiang—”Why are you saying that to me, especially?”—that she lodged seconds after Trump suggested Jiang, an Asian American, ask China about his compulsion to frame coronavirus tests as some kind of global competition.

“I’m saying that to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that,” Trump shot back.

But his grim facial expression—and subsequent refusal to take another question from Jiang’s White House press corps colleague, CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins—appeared to belie that very explanation. For just a few moments, Trump seemed to recognize that he had, once again, done an oopsie dog whistle.

Still, Trump couldn’t let a very public tantrum be the last word. Hours after walking out of the news conference, he dashed off to his mental safe space and declared conspiracy:

By the next morning, Trump was retweeting praise for his behavior, and claiming, without evidence, that Asian Americans shared his fury with China’s actions in the coronavirus pandemic. 

This whole timeline reads like a nightmare, but we shouldn’t ignore the president baselessly accusing female reporters of taking part in a political plot to tank his reelection after getting called out for racism. Trump’s meltdown came at the same time he relaunched a conspiracy-fueled campaign claiming Barack Obama has committed “the biggest political crime in American history,” a wildly absurd accusation that came after Trump reportedly was angered at the former president calling his coronavirus response “an absolute chaotic nightmare” during a private phone call. Taken together, the attacks capture our thin-skinned president turning back to the greatest hits of his political career—racism, misogyny, conspiracy theories—to distract attention and responsibility from a public health crisis that crossed 80,000 deaths over the weekend. 

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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