White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday defended President Trump’s repeated use of the racist slur “kung flu” to describe the coronavirus despite previously telling reporters the term was “highly offensive.”
Reporters pressed Conway this morning on her reaction after Trump publicly used the racist nickname for the virus that causes COVID-19 for the second time in four days.
Trump on Tuesday used the phrase “kung flu” during a speech to young supporters in Arizona while inside a church. The crowd erupted with applause and cheers upon hearing the term. The president had referenced the nickname publicly during a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., last weekend.
Conway had previously weighed in after an Asian American CBS News reporter said in March that an unnamed White House official used the phrase.
“My reaction is that the president has made very clear that he wants everybody to understand, and I think many Americans do understand, that the virus originated in China,” Conway said Wednesday.
When Jiang pointed out that the term “kung flu” does not explicitly reference China, Conway defended the president’s use of the term.
“How do you know that people aren’t anticipating that or not connecting that?” Conway said. “While the president is saying it, he’s also saying this virus came from China.”
Her comments on Tuesday marked something of an about-face from March, when Jiang first alleged she’d heard a White House official call the coronavirus the “kung flu.”
Conway at the time urged the journalist to name the individual but acknowledged that using the phrase was “wrong.”
“That’s highly offensive, so you should tell us all who it is,” Conway said.
Kellyanne Conway condemns racist term 'kung flu' three months before Trump says it pic.twitter.com/dWlUebLIFI
— The Independent (@Independent) June 21, 2020