President Donald Trump lashed out at CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond on Sunday after Diamond criticized the president during the daily White House coronavirus task force briefing.
Trump seemed to expect a confrontation when, as he called on Diamond, he breathed into the microphone, “Yeah, here we go.”
Diamond, noting the toll of the coronavirus on America, asked the president, “Can you explain, then, why you come out here and you were reading clips and showing clips of praise for you and for your administration? Is this really the time for self-congratulations?”
“I will tell you this,” Trump said. “What I’m doing is I’m standing up for the men and women that have done such an incredible job, not for me, for the men and women, admirals, and vice president, if I might, but all of the men and women — thousands, tens of thousands of them — they built hospitals in New York and New Jersey and all over this country in record time. They’d throw up a thousand beds in four days. I’m sticking up for those people. Those people have been incredible. I’m also sticking up for doctors and nurses and military doctors and nurses.”
The CNN reporter then argued that Trump had played video clips and read comments praising his administration.
“All I played today was Governor Cuomo saying very positive things about the job the federal government has done,” Trump said, referring to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Those people have been just absolutely excoriated by some of the fake news like you,” he said. “You’re CNN. You’re fake news. And let me just tell you, they were excoriated by people like you that don’t know any better because you don’t have the brains you were born with. You should be praising the people that have done a good job, not doing what you do, even that question.”
“Nothing’s about me,” the president said. “Look, you’re never going to treat me fairly, many of you, and I understand that. I don’t even know, I got here with the worst, most unfair press treatment, they say, in the history of the United States for a president. They did say Abraham Lincoln had very bad treatment, too.”
Diamond noted that a Wall Street Journal article said Trump was “remaking the playbook.”
“Well, that’s a positive thing because that’s an exercise in how to do it and what to do, and that’s good for the future,” the president said.
“People can learn from that. But I want the men and women of this country that are in danger, the admirals and the generals that have done a job like they’ve never done before — they’re in war,” Trump said. “We’re in war. You know, I call it the invisible enemy. That’s their war and it’s a dangerous war. We’re also at a level when you said 40,000 people, and you’re right, almost 40,000 people –”
Diamond then interjected that the number was 41,000.
“Correct me. Good. Well, I’m really glad you corrected me, CNN, but here’s the story. Let me just tell you something. If we didn’t do what we did, the 40,000 right now could be a million people. It could be a million people, not 40,000. It could be a million,” Trump said.
“We’re tracking at much less than the lowest possible estimate, and that’s a great tribute to a number of people and a number of things. One of the things that it’s attributed to is what’s taken place in this country with the American people because they’ve gone inside. They’ve done it. They’ve done a job that nobody thought was possible, and in fact, when they did the models, as they call them, nobody thought it was possible. They did models not based on this kind of success,” he said.
The president then noted how Americans have changed their lives.
“I’ve seen New York streets, and I see it in the morning, I’ve watched all my life, New York streets, and you can’t even see the pavement, there’s so many people,” Trump said. “And you take a look this morning, you take a look even on Friday morning, I looked at it. I saw it through a camera. There wasn’t a person on Fifth Avenue. There wasn’t a person on Madison Avenue. I’ve never seen anything like it because people have really listened to instructions, and they’ve listened to what we’ve had to say, and the professionals, they’ve listened.
“People should really give them a lot of credit, including people like you, because you just don’t have the sense to understand what’s going on.”
The exchange was much like one earlier this month in which CNN’s Jim Acosta mocked the president’s briefings as “happy talk.”
“This is not happy talk. Maybe it’s happy talk for you. It’s not happy talk for me. We are talking about death,” Trump said in reply.
He later added, “When you ask a question like that, it’s very insulting to a lot of great people.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.