President Donald Trump's referral to the Wuhan coronavirus as a "foreign virus" in Wednesday's national address has drawn sharp criticism from members of the media.
CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta said Trump's language in his Oval Office speech could come off as xenophobic to "a lot of Americans."
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"Now, why the president would go as far as to describe it as a foreign virus? That is something we'll also be asking questions about," he said Wednesday. "But it should be pointed out that Stephen Miller, who is an immigration hardliner … was a driving force in writing this speech. I think it is going to come across to a lot of Americans as smacking of xenophobia to use that kind of term in this speech."
Acosta, however, quoted a CNN article using the phrase "Wuhan Coronavirus" in a tweet on Jan. 23.
CNN International: Authorities in Beijing have cancelled all large-scale Chinese New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the growing spread of Wuhan Coronavirus.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 23, 2020
A CNN article by Paul LeBlanc addressed Trump's language and said, "The characterization of the global pandemic as a foreign virus aligns with how some Trump allies have described the coronavirus in recent days, which critics have called xenophobic."
"The militaristic, nationalistic language of Trump's speech tonight is striking," New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser wrote on Twitter. "A ‘foreign virus,' keeping out China and Europe. But the virus is already here in America."
The militaristic, nationalistic language of Trump's speech tonight is striking: a 'foreign virus,' keeping out China and Europe.
But the virus is already here in America.
— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) March 12, 2020
CNN national security analyst and former Obama administration official Lisa Monaco connected Trump's rhetoric to his order to restrict travel to the United States from most of Europe.
"I don't think the travel restrictions are the panacea here, nor is labeling it a foreign virus," she said Thursday.
CNN New Day anchor Alisyn Camerota also referenced Trump's words on Tuesday, saying "obviously viruses don't have a nationality."
On CBS This Morning, fill-in anchor Michelle Miller asked White House correspondent Major Garrett what Trump had "accomplished by making this an outsider's problem."
"It is kind of an America-first rhetorical flourish that has nothing to do with public health, safety, or public health communication," Garrett said.
Reporters and pundits live-tweeting Trump's Oval Office address scare-quoted or criticized his use of the term.
Early in his remarks, Trump notes the coronavirus "started in China" and calls it a "foreign virus."
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 12, 2020
In the first 30 seconds, President Trump says the virus 'started in China' and then calls it a 'foreign virus'
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) March 12, 2020
Did Trump think that by calling it a "foreign virus" he could close our borders to it, he could deny it status to immigrate to our country, he could lock it in cages? The president is not competent to run the country amidst this crisis. He’s not up to this moment in time. #25A
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) March 12, 2020
The WHO called coronavirus a pandemic, or a global threat, not bound to any location. President Trump called it a foreign virus. Yes, it started in China, but how can a more-or-less lifeless virus be foreign?
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) March 12, 2020
Trump's "War Room" Twitter account compiled a montage of CNN and MSNBC figures referring to the coronavirus as a "Wuhan" or "Chinese" virus. The coronavirus's first reported occurrence was in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Democrats & the Fake News Media are politicizing the coronavirus.
They are accusing President Trump of racism and xenophobia for stating the facts.
This is a foreign virus that originated in Wuhan, China. Just a few weeks ago, Democrats and the media were all saying it! pic.twitter.com/nb9elJvN6H
— Trump War Room – Text EMPOWER to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) March 12, 2020
The United States has reported more than 1,300 cases and 38 deaths from coronavirus as of Thursday, with those numbers expected to grow sharply. Now characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, the coronavirus has caused markets to slide over fears of a global economic downturn.