“This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the ‘Kung-Flu’ to my face,” CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang tweeted on Tuesday. “Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.”
Kellyanne Conway was asked about the incident on Wednesday morning and responded with typical indignation. “Of course it’s wrong,” the White House counselor said, but refused to engage in what she described as a “hypothetical” situation.
As PBS NewsHour correspondent Yamiche Alcindor questioned her about the rhetoric, Conway turned to Jiang, who also stood in the slightly social-distanced press scrum outside the White House and demanded to know which official she was accusing. “Weijia, who was it? Tell us!”
When Jiang replied by saying, “I think you understand how these conversations go,” Conway shot back, “No, I don’t know how these conversations go, and that is highly offensive so you should tell us all who it is.”
“I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals,” Conway reiterated. “I’m married to an Asian. My kids are, partly.” Since her comment seemed to cause confusion among the reporters, she added, “Yes, I’m married to an Asian-American. My kids are 25 percent Filipino.” When Jiang said she didn’t know that, Conway remarked, “You’re all so obsessed I thought you knew.”
George Conway, her husband and prominent Trump critic, is half Filipino on his mother’s side.
Yet despite Kellyanne Conway’s insistence that it is “wrong” to call the coronavirus “Kung-Flu,” she has defended President Donald Trump’s use of the phrase “Chinese virus” in tweets and press conferences, arguing that he’s just referring to its origin.
In his own press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Trump was asked by Alcindor if he thinks if either term puts Asian-Americans at risk. “No, not at all,” the president said. “I think they probably would agree with it, 100 percent. It comes from China.”