A Chinese-born American journalist claimed on Tuesday that she’d been subjected to a racial remark from a White House official.
“This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the ‘Kung-Flu’ to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” CBS reporter Weijia Jiang tweeted.
Journalists, politicians and critics of President Donald Trump rushed to offer their condemnation of the alleged comments.
“I am so sorry that you have to suffer from this kind of horrible racism when you are simply doing your job,” tweeted NBC legal contributor Katie Phang.
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“This is hideous. And it’s why it’s impossible to take this administration seriously or have any confidence whatsoever in them,” MSNBC host Joy Reid tweeted.
Others, though, were skeptical.
In the category of things that never happened, this is the neverest.
— Buzz Patterson for Congress (CA-7) (@BuzzPatterson) March 17, 2020
Numerous liberal politicians, commentators and journalists have echoed the Chinese government’s claim that using the term “Wuhan virus” to refer to the coronavirus is racist.
Days after Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it was “highly irresponsible” for media outlets to call the highly contagious disease the “Wuhan virus” or “China virus,” a debate erupted on social media over the appropriateness of the terms.
“By calling it ‘China virus’ and thus suggesting its origin without any supporting facts or evidence, some media clearly want China to take the blame and their ulterior motives are laid bare. The epidemic is a global challenge,” Zhao told reporters during a briefing in early March.
The World Health Organization has similarly urged against the use of “Wuhan Virus,” “Chinese Virus” or “Asian Virus” to describe the illness.
“The official name for the disease was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization,” the WHO said in a statement.
MSNBC anchor David Gura expressed agreement with the WHO last week, tweeting: “FYI: Calling #COVID19 the ‘Wuhan Virus’ is racist.”
Oh, really? What race is Wuhan?
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 9, 2020
Pro-choice activist Ilyse Hogue slammed Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona for “Using terms like “Wuhan virus.”
“Stop it,” she ordered.
Using racist terms like "Wuhan virus" is why your family ran ads against you. Stop it. https://t.co/Ik8vAClZOW
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) March 9, 2020
Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics appointed by Barack Obama in 2013, accused Trump supporters of “invoking racist tropes” by using the phrase “Wuhan virus.”
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“Desperate Trump supporters are trying to label COVID-19 the Wuhan virus to distract from the fact that the Trump administration’s failures have increased the danger here in the U.S. It’s childish, but it has the advantage of also invoking racist tropes. They like that,” he tweeted.