At a White House press briefing on Sunday, PBS's Yamiche Alcindor asked Donald Trump about his recent comments regarding state needs during the coronavirus crisis. The president falsely denied saying what he'd clearly said, before admonishing the journalist for bothering him.
"Why don't you act in a little more positive?" he asked the reporter. Trump added, "Look, let me tell you something: Be nice. Don't be threatening. Don't be threatening. Be nice."
Yesterday, the president was again annoyed with Alcindor, who asked about glaring U.S. shortcomings on virus testing, especially as compared to South Korea. "I know South Korea better than anybody," Trump said before quizzing the reporter. "Do you know how many people are in Seoul? Do you know how big the city of Seoul is?"
When the NewsHour correspondent tried to shift the focus back to her original line of inquiry, the president answered his own question. "Thirty-eight million people," he said. "That's bigger than anything we have. Thirty-eight million people all tightly wound together."
The population of the South Korean capital is nearly 10 million. The president who claims to know South Korea "better than anybody" wasn't close.
The exchanges weren't flattering for Trump, but there was a familiarity to the circumstances: the president was seen clashing with a woman who questioned him. As the New York Times reported, it's a dynamic that comes up quite a bit.
As he confronts a pandemic, President Trump's attention has also been directed at a more familiar foe: those he feels are challenging him, and particularly women.
Late last week, for example, the president lashed out at two Democratic governors -- Washington's Jay Inslee and Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer -- but he only emphasized gender when talking about the latter. In a Fox News interview, he described the Michigan Democrat last week as "a woman governor," before adding at a press briefing that he's told Vice President Mike Pence, "Don't call the woman in Michigan."
As far as the White House is concerned, Trump slams everyone who bothers him, without regard for gender. But as the Times' report added, the president's Democratic critics point to his "pattern of singling out women," and his recent rhetoric seems to bolster the point.