Among the more frustrating aspects of being stuck in a seemingly interminable loop of information (and misinformation) about the COVID-19 pandemic is knowing for a fact that you can not trust the messages coming from, of all places, the White House.
It’s a Greek tragedy that y’all’s president, Wig Notaro, has been a fusillade of misinformation, confusion and hubris since this all started. A cursory look at his timeline of information reveals that, at best, dude really has no idea what the f— he was doing, and at worst he knowingly led his constituency into mortal danger.
Good thing we have Yamiche Alcindor hurling her Black girl magic – and a mild dollop of shade – directly at Donald Trump’s neck. Alcindor is the White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, which means she is one of the privileged few reporters who can interact with Orange (Soul) Crush directly.
She certainly earned the right: The Miami native and first-generation Haitian-American has a master’s degree from New York University and a bachelor’s from Georgetown University; her curriculum vitae contains an enviable list of prestigious publications, from The Washington Post to USA Today to the New York Times. Alcindor has placed a career emphasis on civil rights journalism, citing the late Gwen Ifill as one of her role models.
She’s been a White House correspondent since January 2018, but lately she has made headlines herself for ladling out Trump’s own bull---- and flinging it right back to him – most recently by challenging him on his thinly-veiled, racially-charged language around the virus.
Alcindor asked Trump if he was aware that someone in his administration allegedly referred to COVID-19 as “Kung Flu” to CBS News White House correspondent Wejia Jiang.She also asked Trump if it’s appropriate for him to refer to the pandemic as the “Chinese coronavirus,” as he did in more than one tweet.
There have been numerous reports of intolerance toward Asians in the United States since the beginning of COVID-19 that’s reminiscent of how many Americans treated people of Arabic descent following September 11.
Unsurprisingly, Trump was brusque and dismissive of Alcindor’s suggestion that “Chinese virus” is not the most sensitive thing to come from the leader of the free f---ing world.
Trump might be a bit on the defense with Alcindor considering almost a week earlier, she came for him over his insistence that he did not have a poor initial response to the virus. He made headlines when he said Alcindor asked a “nasty question,” though she simply reminded him that, in 2018, he dissolved the National Security Council’s Global Health Security team – you know, the folks whose job it was to better position us for exactly what we’re going through now.
Take a look at their exchange below:
Remember last November when Alcindor was one in a Trump hat trick of targets of contempt toward Black woman reporters? It happened when she reminded him that referring to himself as a “nationalist” on his campaign trail might have lit a fire under the Tiki torch crowd that tried to run through Charlottesville, VA. Before she could finish her question, in true 5-year-old fashion, Trump interrupted her to say, “that’s such a racist question.”
As the White House correspondent gig is among the Holy Grails of journalism (at least it was before 2016), many of those who have it are reticent to rock the boat for fear of losing it – we saw what happened to the late Helen Thomas, the longest-tenured White House correspondent who was forced to resign after decades after critics came for her following anti-Israel comments.
Alcindor seems disabused of any desire to play softball with Trump or his administration, but she does her job and she does it with poise and grace – never caving into his intransigence with anything less than professionalism. I don’t expect Trump to change for anyone, but hats off to her for coming at that man’s Adam’s apple; especially in these times of uncertainty, we need folks like her.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at wafflecolored.com.
Photos by: Danny Matson/Getty Images for SXSW and by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images