Kellyanne Conway, who once said the term 'kung flu' was offensive, now says Trump can use the racial slur because Americans must blame China

C-SPANKellyanne Conway, the counselor to President Donald Trump, speaking with the press at the White House on Wednesday.
  • The White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s use of the racist term “kung flu” to describe the novel coronavirus.
  • In March, Conway said the term was “highly offensive” after the CBS reporter Weijia Jiang accused a White House official of using the term.
  • But Trump has embraced the term recently, using it at rallies in Oklahoma and Phoenix on Saturday and Tuesday.
  • At a Wednesday press conference, Conway did not repeat the term but did not criticise it, saying it was important for Americans to know Trump blamed China for the pandemic.
  • “While the president is saying it, he is also saying this virus came from China. China is responsible,” she said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Kellyanne Conway has effectively U-turned on her criticism that the term “kung flu” is offensive by defending President Donald Trump’s use of it while seeking to cast blame on China for the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 18, the counselor to the president had told the CBS reporter Weijia Jiang that the term “kung flu” was “highly offensive” after Jiang tweeted that a White House official, who she did not name, used the term to describe the novel coronavirus in her presence.

Conway at the time said the term was “hurtful” and noted her husband’s Filipino ancestry.

But at a press conference Wednesday, Conway defended Trump’s use of the term, which was met with loud cheers at rallies both Saturday and on Tuesday.

Conway said labelling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus” helped Americans see that the president blamed China for the pandemic.

The justification echoed that of the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who on Monday insisted that Trump was simply “putting the onus back on China.”

Donald Trump TulsaWin McNamee / Staff / Getty ImagesTrump at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the NBC News reporter Monica Alba asked Conway what she thought of the term, now that it had entered the president’s lexicon.

“The president has made very clear he wants everybody to understand … that the virus originated in China,” Conway responded.

Conway then switched topics to condemn Jiang, who had just arrived at the press conference, for not identifying the official said to have used to term back in March.

“I still invite you up here to tell us who said that,” Conway said.

“And I think that that would be a very important revelation for us. That’s not a source for you to protect. That’s somebody who shouldn’t have said that, and you’re claiming did say that, and we still don’t know who that was.”

Weijia JiangWhite HouseThe CBS reporter Weijia Jiang at an earlier press conference at the White House.

Jiang then asked Conway whether she would tell Trump that the term was offensive.

“I speak to the president daily on many different topics. We don’t always agree on everything, and that’s why I work here,” Conway said.

Conway reiterated that “it’s incredibly important” that the president does “not let China escape responsibility here.”

“While the president is saying it, he is also saying this virus came from China. China is responsible,” she said.

“I asked her to walk me through the logic, since the phrase ‘kung flu’ does not refer to a place,” Jiang said on Twitter after the conference had ended.

Conway finished by accusing Jiang of missing her chance to solve the issue.

“You should have come forward 100 days ago. You lacked the courage to tell everybody who said that to you,” she said.

Trump’s use of the term comes as Asian Americans continue to face attacks by people blaming them for the coronavirus outbreak.

Prominent Asian Americans, including Rep. Ted Lieu, the former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, and the actor George Takei, have condemned Trump for using it.

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