After a reporter repeatedly hounded the president with a string of questions about U.S. cooperation with China, President Donald Trump finally doubled back and asked outright, “Who are you working for? China?”
Republicans were outraged when it turned out that the reporter did, indeed, work for a Hong Kong-based outlet with ties to the Chinese state. “Why is an outlet with such close ties to Communist China allowed in the White House briefing room?” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted.
“Who are you working for? China?”
Mid-way through Monday’s coronavirus task force briefing, the reporter noted that “there were multiple flights coming from China full of medical supplies” and pointed out that major Chinese corporations like Alibaba and Huawei had made sizeable donations to the U.S. of “1.5 million N95 masks, and also a lot of medical gloves and much more medical supplies.”
That’s where Trump interrupted her. “Sounds like a statement more than a question,” he said.
Undeterred, the reporter then cited a Chinese ambassador’s call for greater “cooperation” between the U.S. and China with regard to fighting the coronavirus. The president spoke for a moment about the recently implemented trade deal between the two countries, but the reporter continued to press Trump about whether he was willing to cooperate more with China.
Trump replied, “I don’t know. Who are you working for? China? You work for China or are you with a newspaper?”
Amid some additional back-and-forth, the reporter eventually revealed that she worked for Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, which prompted Trump to ask, “Who owns that? China? Is it owned by China? … is it owned by the state?”
The reporter replied that her outlet was a “private-owned company.”
President Trump asks a reporter “who are you working for, China?”
She says that her company is private and based in Hong Kong. pic.twitter.com/jDNcAlO4Y4
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 6, 2020
The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reported that, while Phoenix TV is technically a privately-owned company, it is widely viewed as holding a “sympathetic” attitude toward Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party.
In fact, the Caller noted that the Hoover Institution has classified Phoenix TV as being “quasi-official” and pointed out links between the outlet and Chinese government security services. Likewise, pro-democracy think-tank Freedom House notes that Phoenix TV is owned by a former high-ranking military official that has maintained close ties with the party apparatus in Beijing.
Freedom House went on to say that the media outlet’s “coverage is typically favorable to the CCP” and that it was known for taking the side of the communist regime against dissenters and protesters in Hong Kong.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) expressed outrage that Pheonix TV, with its ties to the Chinese government, was allowed access to the briefing at all. “Phoenix TV has been waging information warfare in the US for yrs,” Cruz tweeted. “They are nominally private but actually state owned. In 2018 I led effort to block them from using cutouts to spread propaganda. MSM should NEVER have given them seat at WH press conference.”