President Donald Trump held a press conference Friday about the coronavirus when PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor asked why he doesn’t “take responsibility at all” for the failed response to the outbreak, to which he responded was “what a nasty question.”
In the question, Alcindor noted Trump disbanded the White House pandemic office and the remaining officials left his administration.
“So what responsibility do you take to that? And the officials that worked in that office said that you — that the White House lost valuable time because that office was disbanded. What do you make of that?,” Alcindor asked.
“When you say ‘me,’ I didn’t do it,” Trump responded. He would also add “I don’t know anything about it.”
“You don’t know about the reorganization at the National Security Council?” Alcindor responded. Trump would deflect to his administration, before his response would shift to an attack, before ultimately cutting Alcindor off.
“It’s the administration perhaps they do that, people let people go. You used to be with a different newspaper then you are now, things like that happen,” Trump said.
Alcindor would share her specific question and Trump’s response on Twitter.
My Q: You said you don’t take responsibility for slow response to coronavirus but your administration disbanded the White House office on pandemics?
President Trump: “That’s a nasty question…When you say me, I didn’t do it. We have a group of people [in the administration].”
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 13, 2020
Responses to Trump’s statement hit Twitter as Senator Sherrod Brown revealed he challenged the president on firing the White House pandemic staff over 600 days ago.
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) March 13, 2020
Before the press conference an editorial in the Washington Post by Beth Cameron, former senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council, highlighted the ramifications of the decision.
“Biological experts do remain in the White House and in our government. But it is clear that eliminating the office has contributed to the federal government’s sluggish domestic response,” Cameron wrote.
Support for Alcindor also poured online with famed author Terry McMillan tweeting, “He does not like the brilliant reporter, Yamiche Alcindor, for obvious reasons, but mostly because he knows she’s 100x smarter than he is.”
He does not like the brilliant reporter, Yamiche Alcindor, for obvious reasons, but mostly because he knows she’s 100x smarter than he is. And she embarrasses the hell out of him. Thank you Yamiche.
— Terry McMillan (@MsTerryMcMillan) March 13, 2020
Sophia Nelson also chimed in on a question posed by NBC’s Joe Scarborough to Trump supporters on why the president is normally rude to Alcindor. “She is a black woman!” Nelson tweeted.
— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) March 13, 2020