What Exactly is US President Donald Trump's Problem with Female Journalists?

US President Donald Trump (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump (Reuters)

Trump seems to really have a problem when female reporters attempt to speak to him.

Jashodhara Mukherjee
  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 12, 2020, 12:27 PM IST
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On Monday, US President Donald Trump stormed out of a press conference after getting into an altercation with an Asian American reporter.

CBS' Weijia Jiang asked Trump why he continued to insist that the US was doing better than other countries when it came to testing for the virus. To this, Trump replied saying that the reporter should ask the same questions to China, and not him. Jiang pushed back and asked why Trump was specifically telling that to her, implying her race. But Trump did what Trump does best, ignored her for the rest of the briefing. When he couldn't take her questions anymore, he stormed out.

This is not the first time Trump has berated a female reporter. Of course, he is hostile to all reporters in general. But he seems to really have a problem when female reporters attempt to speak to him, or worse when they question him.

From the US President flipping over comments by the media to bizarre solutions to coronavirus which have no scientific basis whatsoever, Trump's press briefings are a sight to behold.

But there is one other thing that thousands around the world have observed - the differential treatment meted out to men and women at the briefings. It is not just different, but also quite disrespectful at times. On countless occasions, Trump has called female reporters names like horrid or nasty for simply asking challenging questions, names that he hasn't called their male counterparts.

A few days ago, Trump had asked the same reporter, Jiang, to keep her voice down when she questioned why the US President hadn't acted earlier despite knowing that about the imminent threat from the virus. When the President of the United States of America tells a woman to keep her voice down, for merely doing her job and asking the right questions, you know that stems from deep-seated patriarchy which dictates that women should be meek, soft-spoken and accept whatever is thrown their way - no questions asked.

Take for example, his interaction with CBS reporter Paula Reid. When Reid asked Trump why he had decided to close down the biggest economy in the world in January when apparently the US had no coronavirus deaths, Trump was left dumbfounded. When she egged on and asked why Trump hadn't used all this time to prepare the country for the chaos that the pandemic would cause and strengthen the healthcare infrastructure, Trump's response was mansplaining. And he called Reid disgraceful.

An article by New York Times wrote about how Trump's line of defense against the virus is an attack and almost every time, it is a woman on the receiving end of his wrath. Whenever Trump is questioned about his policies, he gets angry and offended. More so if the person raising these questions is a woman. And his retaliation is usually personal and even vindictive.

So, why doesn't Trump like women reporters? He answers this question himself in an interview to New York Post.

He named the aforementioned reporters and said that they were no Donna Reed. For the unaware, Donna Reed was the personification of the perfect American housewife back in the 1950s. Clearly, to Trump, women should adhere to the conventional stereotypes and any woman who doesn't, strikes him as unusual.

Paula Reid had a fitting reply to this:

Forbes refers to a study to explain why Trump is acting out against women reporters. The study in question suggests that whenever people on the losing end of a contest or a debate, they might fixate on the qualities of the opponent which they believe go against stereotypes and use that to bring them down.

Not just the coronavirus crisis, Trump has had a problem with female journalists ever since he came into power. In 2017, Trump interrupted a call with the Irish Prime Minister to compliment a female reporter. He was on the call when journalist Caitriona Perry caught his eye. He referred to her and her colleagues as the "beautiful Irish press" and asked Perry to come forward. He asked her name and what she did. Then, Trump told the Irish PM that the journalist had a "nice smile" and therefore must be treating him well. Reducing the reporter to just her smile simply devalues her as a professional.

In 2016, a female reporter, Megyn Kelly had asked Trump why he called women he disliked "fat pigs" and the like. However, he had dismissed her as an angry woman later in an interview. Yes, Trump has also been interrogated by male reporters. And they often ask similar questions, much like their female colleagues. But women just seem to annoy Trump more.

Nevertheless, it seems Trump has met his match in these fiery women reporters. And that scares him.

We're not the only ones who feel this way. This is what Twitterati have to say:

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