With the stock market plunging 20% from its highest point today and officially ending its 11-year bull run — begun after the Obama administration rescued it from the disastrous stewardship of the last Republican president — Donald Trump’s testiness is becoming as pervasive as his lies and secrecy about the coronavirus pandemic, a disease that is now firmly established on America’s shores, largely due to his refusal to grasp the seriousness of the situation and his rejection of the advice of scientific experts.
Trump’s notorious temper was on full display today as he took questions from reporters after a meeting at the White House with the CEOs of a number of financial institutions during which the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed into undeniable “bear market” territory for the first time since the Obama recovery.
It probably didn’t help that the person asking the president such an obvious but crucial question about the administration’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak was CNN‘s Jim Acosta who has butted heads with the president often enough that the Oval Office once temporarily suspended his access to the White House in a fit of pique.
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The question that sent Trump into a fury was one that has been repeated endlessly on every TV news program except those airing on the president’s usual slavishly supportive Fox News:
“What do you say to Americans who are concerned that you’re not taking this seriously enough and that some of your statements don’t match what your health experts are saying?” Acosta confronted the president directly with what is obvious to anyone comparing his seemingly improvised reassurances to the public to what public health officals say when not constained by his presence.
Rather than answer the question in the serious manner it deserved, Trump lapsed into campaign mode and railed against Acosta and the network that employees him as the ones providing inaccurate information.
“That’s CNN. Fake news,” was all Trump said dismisively, before angrily ordering the press to leave before any one else asked a followup.
Acosta posted this on his Twitter feed describing the exchange.
Tried to ask Trump to respond to Americans who are concerned he's not taking situation seriously enough and that his statements don't match what health experts are saying. He did not answer the question.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) March 11, 2020
Nothing fake about that news.
One piece of news that did emerge from the brief encounter with White House journalists is the fact that the president plans to address the nation tonight to discuss the government plans to tackle the health crisis, although the language that he used was so authoritarian as to inspire more fear than confidence given his performance to date.
“I’ll be making a statement later on tonight as to what I decided to do and what our country will be doing,” Trump declared. “I’ll be making some decisions. I’ve already made some decisions, actually, today, but I’ll be making some other ones that are very important,” he added.
Trump is asked by @Acosta about "Americans who are concerned you're not taking this seriously," Trump angrily responds, "That's CNN, fake news." And then the White House press team makes reporters leave the room. pic.twitter.com/WRQgOD6MZF
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) March 11, 2020
Original reporting by Jim Acosta and Maegan Vasquez at CNN.