CNN senior national correspondent Kyung Lah said she was called an anti-Asian racial slur while setting up for a live report from Los Angeles Friday after the state of California issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state.
The attack comes as critics continue to warn President Trump against referring to the deadly coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” because such rhetoric is not only misleading — most of the deaths from COVID-19 have occurred outside of China — it also encourages racism against Asian-Americans living in the United States.
At one point, Jake Tapper brought up “these horrific instances of anti-Asian discrimination and racism and xenophobia because of the coronavirus — because it originated in China.”
“You and I talked about this, you said it was okay to bring it up. You had an unsettling encounter today while out reporting on this story,” Tapper said.
“I think it’s been since elementary school that I haven’t heard it directly to my face,” Lah told Tapper. “It’s something that you see on social media frequently, especially if you’re an Asian-American reporting on controversial or even non-controversial news items.”
“So we were standing there preparing for live shots this morning, just hours ago, and a man walked up and used a racial slur,” she explained. “I was so surprised and so taken aback and that I asked him to repeat it because I couldn’t believe it. So it is something that is happening.”
“And what I find most surprising is that it is happening in front of our faces, directly at people,” Lah added. “That is something that have not experienced in a very, very long time in this country.”
“I’m so sorry you experienced that,’ Tapper said, “and I would just like to note if you are stupid and racist enough to be holding random individuals of Asian descent responsible for a pandemic, then you should be self-quarantining from society already. So that’s what I have to say to that idiot.”
Just stunning. pic.twitter.com/s547bQIHLD
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 20, 2020
Earlier today Lah posted on Twitter about it and said the man “some racist shit to me about being Chinese” even though she is Korean-American:
A hateful guy, while I was waiting to do a live shot, said some racist shit to me about being Chinese. a) I’m not Chinese, I’m Korean-American (accuracy w/your racism pls) and b) wtf. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this to my face, America.
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) March 20, 2020