The COVID-19 pandemic, which has currently infected nearly 16,000 people and killed over 200, threatens to send millions of Americans into unemployment as restaurants, bars, churches, schools, and businesses shut down across the country to curb the virus's spread.
But even a national crisis wasn't enough to keep President Donald Trump from berating a reporter at a press conference on Friday.
During a time of immense national urgency and uncertainty, NBC White House Correspondent Peter Alexander asked a straightforward question: What message did Trump have for Americans who are scared?
Watch what happened next.
Trump slams @NBCNews @PeterAlexander https://t.co/tqQqPEbsjz— John Cardillo (@John Cardillo) 1584726710.0
"I say that you're a terrible reporter. I think that's a very nasty question and I think it's a very bad signal that you're putting out to the American people," Trump said. "The American people are looking for answers and they're looking for hope. And you're doing sensationalism and, the same with NBC and Con-cast. I don't call it Comcast, I call it Con-cast."
The President's unhinged response to a sensible question about his message to the American people was widely panned.
Among its biggest critics was CNN anchor John King, who called the reason for Trump's aggression "bulls**t" on air.
John King basically lets it be known https://t.co/fRWrl6LDyg— Jay Scott Smith (@Jay Scott Smith) 1584726634.0
After describing Alexander's question as "perfectly valid," King asked CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins:
"This is a Trump trademark. This is a Trump trademark. It was striking that this came, this—forgive me—bulls**t attack on 'fake news' came just moments after the Secretary of State said the American people had to be careful about where they get their information and go to sources they can trust."
King conceded that he understands there are often disagreements between politicians and reporters, but that:
"That was a 100 percent legitimate question with no hype, no shade, no bias. [Trump] just wanted to attack."
Others heartily agreed with King's assessment.
Others leapt to Alexander's defense as well—even former Republican strategist for Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, Steve Schmidt.
There are no bad questions. Only bad answers. @PeterAlexander question was brilliant for its simplicity and what it… https://t.co/sd3FUYwSHW— Steve Schmidt (@Steve Schmidt) 1584730139.0
The president's job is to reassure, as well as protect, the American people. No one should be surprised that given… https://t.co/Hbzbad5Ff4— Pete Buttigieg (@Pete Buttigieg) 1584730483.0
The irony of the Trump attack on Peter Alexander of NBC News is that it wasn't even a tough question. It was a gene… https://t.co/sR2U1LlSmx— Mehdi Hasan (@Mehdi Hasan) 1584732809.0
I can't get over this. This SOFTBALL question from @PeterAlexander is one I would have ended an interview with in a… https://t.co/4Q7LzZ7TyT— Anna "Extend New START" Schumann (@Anna "Extend New START" Schumann) 1584732038.0
One of Peter Alexander's colleagues died of coronavirus this week.
The President's message to Americans who were scared was clear: With him at the helm, they have reason to be.